Monday 25 May 2015

Simeon Morris at FASHIONCLASH Festival 2015

Bodian collection 2013
Meet Simeon Morris - British of origin, but working and living in Arnhem, where he graduated in 2013 from the ArtEZ Fashion Masters with an MA in Fashion Design. In his designs, Simeon focuses on simple lines, traditional craftsmanship and sustainibility. Simeon Morris will present his newest collection on the upcoming edition of FASHIONCLASH Festival show cases.

Q&A with Simeon Morris
How would you describe your work ? What is your technique? Have you shown your collections before, if so, where ? 

My current collection is an exploration of geometric forms and their interaction with the body beneath. With volumes originally created by draping over a wooden frame, I moved away from traditional pattern cutting processes in order to find a new silhouette. At the same time, I am interested in story telling and the way in which women are represented in western media. Craft and workmanship are a strong element in my work. In this age of technology creep, I continue to believe that a needle and thread are the best way to connect two pieces of fabric together. I am not anti technology, but believe it must always serve creativity and artistic content, not the other way around. I aspire to create a beautiful, truthful product that is modern while founded in the centuries old tradition of sewing craft. With respect to the current state of the industry, I am investigating more sustainable ways to produce clothes, starting with the fabrics I use, for example Vegetable tanned leather. 

What is your most name worthy achievement up to now in relation to fashion?
My experience includes working for a number of renowned designers, including Alexander McQueen in the late 90’s and Hussein Chalayan, amongst others. While working for Fee Doran I sewed the famous white hooded dress designed for and worn by Kylie Minoque in her Can’t get you out of my head music video.

Le Coq_Constantin Brancussi
Who are your artistic influences or inspirations and why? 

In terms of design, I am currently a fan of both Raf Simons and Nicolas Ghesqhiere. Madeleine Vionnet and Madame Grès have been strong influences in the past. Artistically, I am heavily into Constantin Brancussi, who was a major source of inspiration for this collection. The way he discovers the hidden truth within a form is something I aspire to in my work. I am also fascinated by Pina Bausch. Her emotional honesty and expression through movement is awe inspiring. Sculpture is a big part of what I do; in fact, I wished to be a sculptor when I was a child. My father is a sculptor by trade, but also made clothes for my mother. Naturally I followed what he did, which lead to fashion. Underlying my work is a fascination with form, with shape and with volume and how they might relate to a persons body, through movement and stillness. This sits alongside the emotional content that I wish to express. The feeling of wearing something: pride, self esteem, vulnerability, comfort, strength, joy, etc.

Finding your own voice is difficult, where and how do you find your personal creativity (before you start designing; during the design process)? 
I try to be as free and open to the world around me, letting my intuition guide me to things that turn me on. I collect found objects that I'm attracted to and make image experiments with these objects, sometimes with a model, to see what comes up. I also take photographs and sketch. I like to start without clothing in mind and return to it later on in the process. Drawing and the creation of lines are of great interest to me. I am currently experimenting with ways of creating different types of lines and would like to bring that into clothing at some point. My priority is to focus on what I see around me and then to translate that into a garment, an image or an accessory.

What was the most important thing your parents taught you, that you now bring into your work?
One thing I remember strongly and have taken with me from my childhood, from my father, is that when drawing, don't just look at the object, but look at the space around it. I like that. Everything is in relation to everything else around it. Nothing and no-one stands alone. Relationships are very important to me.

Have you recently experienced something that totally blew your mind? 
I just visited the Jeanne Lanvin exhibit at the Palais Galliera in Paris. As is usual there, you could get right up close to the pieces. Truly astonishing craftsmanship. Something less recent was the film Pina by Wim Wenders, which was an incredible experience. I have returned to it many times and I'm totally inspired by the way she manages to express such raw emotion without sentimentality.

Which item in your wardrobe really typifies you and why? 
Right now, it's the jacket that I just made for myself. A reworking of an earlier model of my own design, it will feature in my show as well. It is clean, simple and elegant and has a slightly traditional style, while possessing a modern feel.

What is your most favorite accessory and why?
For me personally, it's a hat. I have a wonderful traditional Sicilian fisherman's cap that I currently love wearing. For a woman, it has to be a beautiful pair of shoes. They don't have to be heels, they could be a mannish pair of flats, but they should be beautifully made!

What is your most favorite brand and why?
Of all time, it has to be Balenciaga, for his astonishing, sculptural vision. I loved what Ghesqhiere did there too. Currently, Raf Simons at Dior is creating the most thoroughly modern and graceful womenswear out there.

How would you define fashion? 
In English, the word fashion also means the way in which something is made. For me, trend driven fashion is becoming less and less interesting. It feels like there is a big change in the air and right now, no-one knows what is coming. I hope to see a more personal approach to fashion, with people seeking out special pieces that feel right for them and wearing them for longer than a season. I want to see more sustainability surfacing in fashion. To me, fashion isn't just about trends, it's about the way something is made, what it is made from and what that signifies to the wearer and their audience. In that sense, it is a language and a conversation.

Graduation geometric experiments

Are you a people's person or a loner?
I spend a lot of time alone in my atelier getting on with things, but I love people, love to meet new people and I love to pass on my knowledge to others who want to learn it. I love to teach!

What do you strive for in your work?
Honesty. I try not to put anything superfluous on a garment, I never design for effect only.

What are the key factors in your design? 
Clean lines, geometry and an attempt to tell a story about a certain type of woman.

What makes your items different from others (What is your designing philosophy)?
Many of my pieces don't follow traditional pattern cutting lines, as a result this has created some new shapes. Furthermore, I have been playing with gender codes and continue to do so. I wish to subtly challenge the ways in which women are often portrayed in fashion. For example, my trousers tend to emphasize and enlarge your deriere!


Fashion needs to progress year in year out, how do you keep innovating?
I try to stay abreast of what is happening in the world today. I am curious about developments in 3D printing and can't wait to start to play with it, to see if that might yield something interesting. I am continually challenging myself to stay out of my comfort zone.

What is the contemporary condition of fashion in your place of residence? 
Currently I am based in the Netherlands, which has a strong design DNA across product design, but perhaps less so in fashion. Still, the fashion academies here keep producing talented young designers, especially ArtEZ, whose graduates seem to make some waves around Europe. At the moment there appears to be a bit of shift in style, with designers working with very bright prints and clashing colours, pushing against the traditionally clean and minimal aesthetic that Holland is known for.

What is your ultimate goal? What do you want to achieve with your projects?
My goal is to start a small company making unique, special pieces, as well as starting a made to measure line. I feel that the desire for something unique, special and well made, with a transparent production process, has a place in the current scheme of things.

What are your views on gender categorization in fashion ? (as in differentiating between male/female collections, is this necessary ?) 
I think it's becoming less necessary, but it's important to remember that the vast number of people who buy clothes do so with little or no real connection to 'high' fashion concepts. They will still want this gender classification as that is what they know and understand.

Do you believe the western binary gender system (male/female) will eventually disappear?
I doubt it will disappear. And why should it? There is no need to get rid of it. It simply needs to make room for a broader and more inclusive way of classifying clothing. Clear male and female clothes still have a place and traditional gender codes are a lot of fun to experiment with. Fashion right now is playing with them and removing the obligation to fit into either male or female clothes based on your sex, but that doesn't mean that there aren't plenty of women out there who still want a sexy dress and heels, or men who want dark coloured traditional suits and casual wear. I think the recent play with gender is about adding new ways of dressing, not throwing out the old.

What are your thoughts on the idea that unisex is the new androgynous in fashion ?
Well, to me, androgynous means looking neither masculine nor feminine, whereas unisex can be very masculine and worn by both sexes, or very feminine and worn by both sexes. In that sense, unisex is more interesting to me. It allows for more scope and more room to play with gender codes and self expression.

What does your collection try to communicate (what is about)? 
Ultimately my collection is about a woman expressing all aspects of who she is. It is about a fully rounded woman, who isn't afraid to defy traditional feminine codes. She doesn't feel the need to reveal her body with tight clinging fabric but is confident in her sexuality and power. She combines both the masculine and the feminine. In that sense, my collection is about personal power and self actualisation.

Why have you decided to participate at FASHIONCLASH Festival ? 
Fashionclash maintains that special, almost underground feeling that fashion thrives on, whilst having a broad reach. I see that its presence in the fashion calendar is increasing. It feels like exactly the right kind of platform to showcase my work.

What can we expect from you at the festival? 
I hope to present a beautiful and subtle show, that leaves a lingering impression.

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