zaterdag 26 mei 2018

Interdisciplinary Designer Amy Ollett

Meet Amy Ollett, an English fashion designer. 
She specializes in an interdisciplinary approach to fashion, combining her training as a dancer and choreographer with design. The work explores the interface between dance, fashion, movement and design and is informed by the properties of fabric, garment and choreography to develop form, shape and conceptual relationships. This is also showcased in her new collection 'MOVERE'. The collection has led into the development of a new performance design methodology that allows expression and physicality to go beyond the skin, encouraging practical and artistic coherence of both body and design.

 he vulnerability of the body against fabric allows for a relationship to unfold, and garment begins to form from a reactive movement of the bodies communication. The collection identifies how and where the body communicates through fabric informing the garment resolution. Thus, allowing the design and movement to become intrinsic to one another. Through movement and choreography, the development of design allows a new opening, in which to discover innovative and constructive movement vocabulary that can be used for design purposes.

Amy Ollett's collection will be presented at the Show Programme at SAM-Decorfabriek on Saturday the 16th of June. You can get your tickets for the show here.

What made you realize that you wanted to work in (fashion) design?

During my training as a dancer, I was always drawn to avant-garde imagery within the fashion industry which influenced my movement as a choreographer. However, I did not see its potential as a combined field until making my move into Fashion education. Through my Master's Degree, I discovered new methods to develop fashion design with the body and movement. This discovery has made me want to work within fashion design to transform the way we experience clothing in connection to our body. 

Why did you choose fashion?

It wasn’t until my last year of my Bachelor's Degree that I began to understand the relationship I was having between my own movement and design. However, my vision for design was not meeting the movement I wanted to fulfil and I felt unsatisfied as a mover. Consequently, I knew I needed to focus on the design aspect of my practice and bring fashion to the surface once and for all. Fashion was creating that space in-between to materialise, leading to extensions of movement I could not achieve with my own physical body. This is what lead me into doing my Masters Degree in Fashion.

What would you say are your main achievements in your career?

One of my biggest achievements so far is completing my MA in Fashion with ‘high distinction’. Especially as I was coming from a completely different field, I wanted nothing more than to bring my vision to a physical reality and I did! Being able to move yourself into the deep end of your work is terrifying but I threw everything in and when the year was up I had even specialized in my own methodology for movement design research. 

Another main achievement for me was choreographing a piece for California State University of Fullerton’s annual Spring Concert. The performance piece ‘Ataxia’ was developed over 4 months and shown for eight shows running at the concert hall. It is one of my most ambitious pieces to date and the one that focused me into the direction I have undertaken now. It was with this piece that I realized the depth of connection I can make with an audience, despite the piece tackling strong and dark themes, it remained to have a cohesive dialogue with everyone in the audience for each of the eight shows! 

What are your sources of inspiration?

I am obsessed by movement. The core of my inspiration comes from this and seeking to find movement in design to expand my own. As a dancer, I became so unsatisfied in my own movement that I would always seek for more through clothing and materials. This is what has expanded into the work today. This continues to be my main inspiration for everything I do.

Why did you decide to participate in FASHIONCLASH Festival 2018? What are your expectations?

I have wanted to be a part of FASHIONCLASH for a while now because of their reputation for showcasing interdisciplinary talent. I knew immediately this was a space where I needed to be and express my work. Each year they bring something new to the surface and the platform they provide to fashion is unlike any other. FASHIONCLASH has an acceptance to differentiation within the fashion industry and I know I will be supported throughout all the work I am showcasing.

What do you love most about (fashion) design? What are the biggest struggles faced by young designers?

I think the relationship we have with design is fighting to remain honest with our choices, decisions and principles. It can be difficult especially as a young designer who is coming from a different approach, to remain true to who I am and what I stand for as an artist. However equally as young designers we have a resilience for diversity in the industry around us, despite what society may try and conform us too. Breaking from tradition is difficult yet exciting and not allowing yourself to see boundaries of old ‘ways of working’ let’s originality come through. Young designer should always be encouraged by freedom of creativity not imprisonment.

How would you define fashion?

Fashion is my freedom.

What do you think are the most important issues in fashion today?
Something I continue to explore myself is the approach I have to clothing and the way I see a garment. With my own pieces, I keep labelling (‘a dress’) to a minimum, this allows my wearer to explore it differently and encourages the idea of multi wear. This idea allows us to stop buying more and wearing what is already there instead. The consumption of buying clothes and the need for more is becoming uncontrollable and in return not supporting sustainability. ‘Fashion has no rules’ and yet society still tries to conform us to what is the correct way to wear something, instead of pushing the idea of wear/explore how you want. Buy 1, wear 10 ways. Don’t buy 10 and wear only 1.

How do you think fashion contributes to society, can it contribute to a better world?

What it means to be human? is a question that comes straight to mind when I think about society and our place in the world. We are living in our time where titles and labels are being stripped away and our self-discovery is larger than ever before. Fashion allows us as a society to help identify this discovery through what we wear and how we choose the express that. It is a tool to help strengthen what it means to be a human by finally blurring the lines of gender, sex, race and culture and allowing a cohesive expression to happen across cultures universally.

What challenges do you face in the design process? What are your favorite parts of the process?

I am always challenged by distraction for other or additional ideas during the design process. It can be a very exciting time when you are building pieces and ideas however overwhelming when faced with multiple outcomes and outlooks. The same when rehearsing, it can become repetitive and what was once an amazing idea becomes dry when in fact it needs that refinement and stretch to allow a finished product to come alive. Not letting distraction of other movements, other choices, and other ideas get in the way allows the marinating that needs to happen with the original design. Patience is hard but persistence is key. 

Describe your design process in one word.

How would you describe the concept behind your project (for FASHIONCLASH)? 
Beginning with the concept that the body should be extended physically and emotionally through design, the garments test ways to extend natural form, allowing the body to construct its own resolution to dress. Influenced by myself, as a trained dancer and choreographer, I know the extremes of the body and its limitations. I believe these limitations can be realised through other means of expression and design, resulting in expansions of new movement. My collection synthesises body and garment so that, the one without the other, neither fully exists. The body is no longer a passive thing to be ‘dressed’ but creates its own resolution to dress. The vulnerability of the body against fabric allows for a relationship to unfold, and garment begins to form from a reactive movement of the bodies communication. The collection identifies how and where the body communicates through fabric informing the garment resolution. Thus, allowing the design and movement to become intrinsic to one another. Through movement and choreography, the development of design allows a new opening, in which to discover innovative and constructive movement vocabulary that can be used for design purposes.  The fabric selection within this collection is essential in identifying the body and garments movement inspiration, movement identity and personality. By informing the design through the movement dynamics I can realise the fabric appropriate for each piece, resulting in unconventional and innovative textile methodologies to movement design. 

What inspired you? 

For this collection, the backbone comes from my movement research and development, always pulling from the body and what’s its communicating through each fabric. This collection is narrating a rawness to my anxiety as an artist and growing up in my body. Not being fulfilled emotionally with my movement, resulting in isolation and a desperation to be larger than myself. Each piece of work I do is always driven by my own emotions and is very raw when reaching the surface. I see clothes as second skins and this is an extension of your body and soul.

How would you describe your project in three words?

Movement motivates everything.

What projects are you involved in at the moment? What are your next steps?

I am currently exploring a costume design for an experimental film, which is helping to inform all of the work I am developing at the moment. The film has great freedom to the character I am building, which has allowed my process to construct consistently and naturally. Each piece that I develop, no matter the project all coincide together which comes unconsciously to myself and yet consciously I am aware of what its next steps may be. I look forward to exploring this piece further into a performance piece later this year that narrates the rest of the collection and enhances the methodology and process behind it all. 

What are your thoughts regarding fashion and religion?

Religion to me is something extremely personal and opens an inner dialogue within yourself to your surroundings. Something I also believe Fashion does when creating a dialogue from yourself to the outside world, both give a security and confidence to the person you want to be. They give the ideas of creation and with that present an identity.

What does your day look like during the design process?

During the design process, each day can vary depending on the stage it is at. However, at its early stage I will start out with one of my company dancers and fabric choices I want to work with. We will spend a couple of hours in the studio moving and exploring the dynamics between both the fabric and movement happening against the body. Once I have footage of moments I like, I will develop this through 2-D techniques and inform this into toiles, which will then be taken back to the studio. This relationship between mover and material will continue for some time before I feel that the piece has marinated in movement long enough. Sometimes this doesn’t need long and the motion in instinctual others will never finish transitioning.

Who is your favorite artist?
An artist/choreographer who I admire has always been Pina Bausch. Her work has transcended what it means to move and be moved by visual displays with the body and the world around us.

Who is your favorite designer?
I’m not sure if I have a favorite designer, there are many designers whose words are what resonates with me more than perhaps their work does. Each designer has something to share and teach, Rei Kawakubo resonates with me with her relationship to her work. In an interview, with Tim Blanks of Business of Fashion, Rei talks about the pain of constant creation. Kawakubo explains how she can’t be without freedom of creation yet the work becomes very painful when faced with what she is trying to say and allowing that to still be a business. This resonated with me, with having such an emotional connecting to my work, at times its extremely trapping as you are pouring out everything to the work but are faced with a reality of always sharing that with the world, never knowing its impact. I have always referred to the end of each work as cutting the umbilical cord, it’s an aching finish but also an exhilarating freedom.

You can learn more about Amy Ollett by visiting her website

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