This collection of works, Saoirse’s Garden, expresses my experience as a queer person through fashion design. I reference a mixture of unconventional punk and rave fashion with the concept of traditional 17th-century tailoring presented through a modern geometric fashion. Throughout the creation of this collection, I drew inspiration from Vivienne Westwood’s twist on tartan patterns, garment construction, and her provocative fashion. Saoirse, pronounced “Sur-Sha”, is a traditional name that originated during the Irish War of Independence in the 1920s, when Ireland was fighting the British for freedom. Saoirse was eventually seen as a name signifying freedom. The Garden emphasizes that this collection has, in a way, grown up together. Every piece in this collection is interchangeable and can work together to complete the mission of the Garden. The sets are shown share similarities while still showcasing their own ideas.
I chose to use several different kinds of materials to articulate these thoughts. These materials include cotton, denim, chiffon, faux leather, felt, sterling silver, and stainless steel. I chose denim, faux leather, and felt because of their thickness and ability to hold different forms. I was able to use these fabrics to increase the volume of specific parts of an article of clothing by pleating these fabrics. I selected two different patterns of chiffon; one displaying a tartan of my design, the other displaying a thick cream pinstripe. These fabrics are flexible and smooth, and create pleasant waves and crisp exteriors. The denim and chiffon fabrics consist of colors that symbolize meanings within the queer flag. More importantly, they represent big milestones throughout my journey of self-love and discovery. The most important colors feature dark blue, dark green, and red, each representing its milestones. In this tartan, dark green represents the transformative growth of coming out. Coming out is a life-changing decision, in both good and not-so-good ways. However, all have helped me embrace different parts of myself. Blue represents the inner peace that develops after coming out. Embracing this journey of self-discovery and love, although not easy, was important in the development of finding peace within my own identity. Red represents the love and passion I feel toward my community. Learning to love me and my identity has encouraged me to support others who are going through a similar journey. In addition to garments, I created accessories inspired by beetles going through their life cycles; a metamorphosis. I reflected on this metamorphosis by creating different stages of these transformations through winding wire wrapped around the center of different stone amulets. I used sterling silver wire and sheet metal, lapis lazuli, jade, and silver chain to create these amulets. I chose to add this metamorphosis because it captures the kind of metamorphosis that I have experienced after coming out.
In the artworks, “Saoirse”, “Process of Rebirth”, and “Metamorphosis” I reference an important technique of historical dressmaking known as cartridge pleating. Cartridge pleating is the process of pleating large lengths of fabric to significantly smaller sizes. When done in different ways, pleated fabrics can drape in luscious curves that usually hang from the waist. Pieces like “Metamorphosis” and “Controversy” include the ruff collar. Traditional 17th-century fashions included the ruff collars which presented those who wore them with a higher status. However, I am using ruffs as inspiration in creating and experimenting with different pleat lengths, and forms. In “lady peace” and “Process of Rebirth” I manipulated a pinstripe chiffon fabric and elastic to create ruffled trims. The ends of all pinstripe chiffon fabrics are serged raw. Serging is the action of stitching around the edge of a fabric to contain fringe. These raw edges represent undergarments: the unseen layers. I decided to layer undergarments to peek out of the surfaces of the skirt in “Process of Rebirth” and the corset in “Lady Peace.