Thursday, April 26, 2012

Transcending Beneath the Layers

An article and collage work completed for Amsterdam's Fashion Institute (AMFI) Magazine Major project - Shared Kingdom earlier this year.  This article is also an extension (or epilogue) to my graduate thesis on the art and fashion of collage.

Transcending beneath the layers

By: Helen K.H. Pappas.

I spent the last year of my degree completely engrossed in homework. Now that I think about it, every year was spent fully submerged in assignments! For me, this degree was a Bachelor of Fashion Design. I was making it, drawing it, analysing its history, questioning how fashion can be created and where I sit in all of this. What I found most interesting was not the relief when it was all finished, but how my views towards fashion had developed. I had thrown away the old me, and was re-born into a different version of myself. I had left behind my ‘student’ self and had grown my own style as a designer. I became a designer that speaks the language of collage.

Collage, being the topic of my thesis, became more than just a technique for working. It became and a metaphor to the process of design.  The more I researched, the more links between collage and fashion I found. And the relationships between art and fashion intensified.
In the beginning it didn’t seem that collage and fashion were two topics commonly discussed. But when combining fashion, art and collage to a social context everything started to make sense. All three fields deal with the notions of re-birth, revival and the reincarnation of the past.
The practice of collage art is a constant form of recycling and reviving. Collage seems to reoccur in times of global change. At the beginning of the 20th century collage was popularised by the Cubist movement of the early 1910s and then again during the Pop Art movement during the 1960s. It is interesting that both times coincided with global unrest and the creation of new developments. During the Cubist movement these progresses were the effects of industrialization, while the 1960s developed mass media, television as well as political and social shifts.
Living in the age of the Internet, global conflict and financial instability,
I am not surprised that collage has once again found its way back to the forefront of our visual language.

What I find truly fascinating is that collage has made such an impact on art and also on fashion. For many years its presence has been central to the progression of fashion design. An example of this is that both fashion and collage share the topic of mythology for exploration. Echoes of Greek myth, such as the characters of Pegasus and Hercules have been sprinkled across history and art. Reproduced again and again, cut and glued together, these tales never seem to die or lose their ability to relate to current society.
I find this truly remarkable that these myths continually inspire the designer. As these stories are thousands of years old and still a strong part of our visual language. It became clear after attending all the Art & Design lectures at Uni that there are many creative talents both past and present, who explore the notions of Greek mythology. Pablo Picasso commonly used the character of the Minotaur in his works, Madeleine Vionnet was inspired by the drape of ancient statues, even the label Prada and countless other artist, designers and advertisers allude to pieces of these myths.

But what makes mythology so significant to collage and design?
The influence of mythology lies in its ability to stay relevant. By working this old theme of mythology and injecting it with modern subjects like fashion or collage, its’ relevance is reborn back into our world. And mythology becomes a collage of its own, multi-layered with pieces of the past and the present. By reusing mythology as inspiration it prevents these stories from dying. Through each rebirth these myths maintain their mystique and power in design.
When thinking about the idea of collage on a greater scale, the notion of the ‘cut’ became an important part of my research. The ability to slice, cut, break and then rearrange the images allows a new, witty or provoking meaning. It is this visual language of the ‘cut’ that suggests a kind of death or destruction to the original medium. The physical dissecting not only breaks, for example a roll of fabric, or a photograph, but also symbolically destroys it. These new fragments are pieced together and transformed into something entirely different.
Much like this, Greek mythology constantly blends Gods, beasts and humans together, building complex characters that are both surreal and a reflection of human personalities.
The transformation from a recognisable image, into a poetic combination of visuals is still one of the strongest ideas in collage. These juxtapositions allow our minds to reflect on the world around us, while designers and artists consistently use collage to create new meaning between images or styles.

Collage is a technique and an idea. It is centred on its ability to blend and juxtapose different elements together. Collage intermingles many ingredients together and it is this ability that lends itself so beautifully to the concepts of rebirth and transformation. By continually reviving the stories of Greek myth, collage pays homage to the culture of past traditions as well as present behaviour. Through practicing collage, the materials (wether they be styles, stories, animals or images) are reborn into new contexts and uses. Collage is no stranger to myth, legend and the themes of death and rebirth. As collage looks beyond the physicality of ‘death’ and transcends into something more celestial and eternal. 

So while I am no longer at University, my newfound love of collage is an exciting prospect. I am sure, like many design and fashion graduates before me, my first year in the industry will be one layered with opportunity, influences and challenges.

This article is an extension of Pappas’s graduate thesis titled Beneath the Layers - Collage’s Influence on the world of fashion, completed in 2011 at the Royal Melbourne Institute of Technology (RMIT) in Australia.

Sunday, April 22, 2012

"If we want things to stay as they are, things will have to change." (Tancredi-The Leopard)

Inspired by the works of Luchino Visconti: the great Italian director (1906-1976), 
this collaboration blends the seduction of opulence and luxury with 
distant worlds and fantasy.

Photographer: Anthony Tosello
Stylist &: Designer: Helen Pappas
Make Up Artist: Eve Dimitrakadis
Model: Amy Pollock @ London MGT Group
Collages by: Helen Pappas

Tuesday, April 10, 2012

Wednesday, April 4, 2012

Collage by: HelenPappas

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Composure, seduction, bewilderment & pain,
with a magic curtain. 
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