Amitabh Sharma, Contributor
Pushing the boundaries of fashion
There are painters who transform the sun to a yellow spot, but there are others who, with the help of their art and their intelligence, transform a yellow spot into the sun, said Pablo Picasso, world-renowned Spanish painter, sculptor, printmaker, ceramicist, and stage designer. A group of students from the School of Visual Arts (SVA) Textile Department, at Edna Manley College of the Visual and Performing Arts (EMC), set out to transform their spots into the sun - dispelling the colours of the rainbow.
These creative minds were at work to create couture for the annual alternative fashion show at the EMC.
"Alternative fashion show was created to push the creative boundaries of the students," informed Robert Hall, lecturer at the Textile Department, SVA. "It has now become a major fund-raising occasion for School of Visual Arts Textile Department and the mission is to create designs using non-traditional materials such as plastic, aluminum cans, stones, etc."
These students took 'thinking out of the box' to a whole new level, in fact, the proverbial box was nowhere in sight.
While some of them were cutting and welding steel, others were trimming newspapers, unfolding snack wrappers, and tearing garbage bags to make them into pieces of garments for models to parade on the runway.
The unorthodox, non-traditional materials - some gathered from waste - were as much about making a fashion statement as it was to give a message to the masses.
"There is also the Jamaican message," Hall added. "'Tun yu han' an' mek fashion', which speaks to the idea that fashion is about executing a creative idea."
The finished 'garments' were modelled by students who were clamped into steel blouses, in tops made of snack wrappers, in skirts made of garbage bags, in tops adorned with compact discs (as bling) glued on them. The raw material for this genre of 'clothing' were devoid of fabric.
The ingenuity of these youngsters makes Hall proud. "Every year," he said, "The students push the boundaries."
The genesis of alternative fashion was in February 1999 with 'Recycle Fashion Show', which changed to 'Alternative' in 2000 and has evolved as a major fund-raiser for the SVA and also aims to raise funds for the Textile Department.
"We have evolved from a small one-hour show to a larger show, which incorporates other tertiary institutions and have attracted corporate sponsors," Hall informed. "Each year, the students and faculty make something genius out of a material ... you would not have any idea that these could be wearable."
The materials and processes used are both unconventional and not the raw materials usually used for clothing, bonding of thread is replaced by glue, stapler pins and welding machine.
This year, their creative counterparts from the University of Technology, Northern Caribbean University and The Mico University College joined the EMC students.
Hall said he is hoping to take this innovative journey to the next level, from the runway to everyday wear. "The participants are exploring new concepts that are inspiration for everyday wear," he said. "It is sort of like research, if this works with paper or plastic, then the concept could also work with fabric."
Alternative fashion, delving into the unexpected, the unexplored and perhaps unimaginable gives a poignant message too - nothing around us is 'trash' till we deem it to be. To sustain is life and we must respect it to the max.