I’ve been doing my fair share of watching paint dry with little odd jobs around the house to pad out what has been a restful August. Just to balance out these lengthy passages of boredom, I’ve also been watching paint mix. They’re perhaps 2016’s kitten videos as various accounts on Instagram dedicate themselves to one thing only – documenting the mixing action of one blob of paint with another blob of paint. It’s a satisfying thirty seconds of childish delight paint alchemy is achieved
This mindless watching of colours mixing with one another, reminded me of Oksana Anilionyte’s work For a few reasons (namely puking my way through the first trimester) I wasn’t able to attend many of this year’s graduate shows in London but some names have stuck with me. Her Royal College of Art graduate collection this year was arresting even from a quick glance on social media. The context of the show was also an interesting one. With Zowie Broach (formerly of my early 20s obsession – the British label Boudicca – HURRAH FOR BOUDICCA!) succeeding Wendy Dagworthy in helming this course, a different approach was deployed for the 2016 fashion graduate show. Eschewing the traditional runway format, and with the choreography of Joe Moran, each graduate presented a “world” concentrated into one look instead. Some graduates used dance or spoken word to accompany their ensemble. Others like Anilionyte simply relied on the strength of their innovation found in their core raw materials.
I have to belatedly applaud Broach and the graduates for coming up with this re-energised way of seeing these collections. Graduate collections are for the most part, dedicated to singular ideas and aren’t meant to be seen in a straight-to-commerce context so why apply that conventional runway format to such collections. This was an opportunity for graduates to express their collections with an act or a gesture, that would have more impact than simply parading clothes up and down a catwalk.
Anilionyte’s collection could be grasped from seeing that swirl of lilac merge with orange on the body. This is no facile paint palette mixing though. Anilionyte’s fascination with the transformative power of textiles, began when she worked on the “bioLogic” project with MIT Media Lab, where fashion and science came together to create bio-organic sportswear. “Now I have a strong vision on the way material innovation can change fashion and our relationship towards it,” she explained over email. “I feel a huge responsibility to make a difference and work towards the future of fashion”
Her collection entitled ‘Fluid’Sense’ stemmed from looking at the way the body reacts to certain materials. To create textiles that appear to be in an in-flux liquid state is certainly a domain that has yet to be explored. Using polymer-based materials to create these fluid creations, relies on the body temperature and natural perspiration to form these malleable second skins. Thus they’re almost like reflections of our mood, seeing as a raised body temperature can signal a range of emotions. This was a material developed in the laboratory rather than an atelier, and paves yet another stone in the collaborative path of fashion and science. In some of Anilionyte’s imagery, there’s the allusion to the stimulus of a flower dripping onto the body. Even with these plastic man-made forms, there’s a strangely organic and nature-derived aesthetic. As with any graduate starting point, what excites of course is what potentially could come out of these liquid textiles. Will we one day be able to pour a substance onto our bodies that instantly forms a garment? Whilst far-fetched for the moment, the visual effect of Anilionyte’s collection is undeniable, as one pastel shade mixes into another, resting at that half way stage of a marbled beauty. It’s the part of those Instagram videos that I like the most before the paints reach their final destination.
Credits – Photography: Nhu Xuan Hua, Model: Alena Nurgaleeva, Stylist: Francesca pinna, Set Design: William Farr, Make Up Marie Bruce, Hair: Roger chO