I guess the proper words get harder to come by when a surge of emotions come at you like a tidal wave. Which is why I can’t articulately put into words the overwhelming feeling of triumph, pride, and relief that came over me right after the SoFA 2014 Graduation Show.
It really hasn’t been easy. 9 months prior to this moment, I thought I’d have it in the bag. I knew from the get-go that I wanted to do a final collection about space. I’ve always wanted to create something to appease my musings about the universe. I knew that my future collection was to be colorful and crazy, playful and tongue-in-cheek. 9 months ago, I thought I was sure of a lot of things. For the first month, I sketched, listed things, and talked about my plans confidently. But the months came by quickly. As I sat and stood and scratched my head restlessly, having nothing finalized two months before the show, I was already worn out and exasperated. After 7 months of planning and preparation, I had nothing to show for but a pile of wrong materials, failed prototypes, and half-made garments that proved to be impossible to construct.
If there’s anything I learned from months of developing my collection, “Space and the Human Race”, it is to not fall in love with your first idea. No matter how brilliant you think it is, you’ll never know if that same idea would come back to slap you in the face and say “I’m a ridiculous idea. Make me better.” It’s always best to experiment, try out all possibilities, eliminate what doesn’t work, and find the most effective process to achieve a complicated vision that has no set instructions. Embrace failure because it will come. Solve it, work around it, or move on until you stumble upon a success.
I guess it was a combination of pride and stubbornness that made me unrelenting during my 7 chaotic months. I fell in love with a sketch of a spacesuit that I drew during our first brainstorming session, and that became my heaviest crutch. After months of sewing and taking apart and resewing again, my actual prototype never closely approached the sketch or the idea in my head. I was working with difficult materials, using an unexplored technique with my underdeveloped sewing skills. I was fighting against three, ginormous odds. But I refused to let go, until time told me that I had to.
With two months left and only one dress finished, I set my failed pieces aside and went on a new course. I reexamined my strengths and interests, then used them as my assets to help me work more efficiently. I knew I was good at digital art & collage, so I developed prints for my clothes and used that as the main narrative in which I would tell my story. I loved the tedious task of hand-beading, so I incorporated that to add detail and depth to all my looks. It took weeks and many bleeding fingers to finish, but in the end I managed to pull through.
So much of design is learning how to make the ideas in your head turn into actual, tangible things. And so much of it is also being objective and honest enough to know if some of these ideas don’t work. Designing is, in fact, a never-ending process of adding, subtracting, changing, and transforming original ideas into better ones. I learned one of the hardest things I had to learn through this collection. It’s to let go of something I love, in the off-chance that I might find something worth loving more.
And I’m proud to say that I am in love with what I’ve done. Of course it’s not the BEST THING EVER!!! – but it is my best at this particular moment, at this particular time.
And I think that should be enough :)
From Earth To The Moon: Moon skirt (featuring both its front and far side) + Earth jacket with green land masses that are entirely hand-sewn and hand-beaded. Remember this preview? Yup. Graphics collaged by myself.
The Challenger / Rocket Dress: The first dress I actually finished! I wanted it to look like a rocket in silhouette, so I made booster-like details at the hem. There’s also a hand-beaded fringe hanging down from the rocket’s exhaust to trace the path of the smoke. Graphics collaged by myself.
Look To The Stars: This suede jumper took FOREVER to finish because every single “star” or silver bead was, again, hand-beaded. You probably can’t see how many beads I’ve used but trust me – I’ve used A LOT. This is paired with a silver holographic turtleneck dress and hand-embellished socks.
Moonwatcher: Moonwatcher top paired with Maximum Absorption Garment diaper shorts, which is an actual diaper that astronauts wear underneath their space suits when they go on EVAs or missions. One of my favourite looks! Every single paillette on those sleeves has been hand-sewn, not to mention the sequined rays coming out of the telescope… they were also hand-sewn. I enjoyed beading this piece the most though, cause the colors made me happy! Graphics collaged by myself.
And I’m sorry, but I’m in love with the UFO purse I made hahaha :D
Astrosuit: No decent runway picture of this, save for the StyleBible version below, but I really enjoyed conceptualizing the accessories for this spacesuit x-ray shirt dress. The backpack says “Waste Disposal” – and it’s supposed to stand for the system of collection for wasted water in space. Hygiene water, sweat, and urine (yes) are all reprocessed in order to churn out safe, clean, drinking water. The backpack has been superficially connected to the “Primary Life Support Subsystem” pack (which I’ve turned into a briefcase here) – which is the chunky “backpack” that’s strapped at the back of astronauts. It’s what regulates pressure in the suits, provides breathable oxygen, expels the circulating CO2, and basically keeps the astronauts alive outside the Earth’s atmosphere.
Extravehicular Mobility Unit: My finale piece! It is probably the look that I’m most excited about. It is also the very first one that I’ve conceptualized, and I’m glad to see it through the end. I already had the silhouette of this jacket designed 9 months ago, but the material and details kept changing over time. Originally, this was supposed to be made of plain, quilted leather, but since I decided to go on the direction of digital print, that idea was thankfully scrapped.
I started from scratch by making a mixed-media collage, just as I would on a normal day. And then I superimposed it to a flat jacket pattern to see how it would appear. I was so happy about how it turned out that I took the initiative of quilting every single dominant shape on the jacket, then had it embroidered on the back with a notice that says, “This $16,000,000 Extravehicular Mobility Unit should be worn at all times” – to point out three facts.
1) The normal spacesuit costs an average of 16 million USD (more nowadays, I think)
2) The spacesuit is technically called an Extravehicular Mobility Unit, meaning it is their main means of moving around when doing EVAs / tasks in space.
3) The EMU has to be worn at ALL TIMES in space, or else your blood will boil then freeze, and your skin will expand to twice its normal size. But you die within about 15 seconds, before all that finishes happening.
In addition, both sleeve arms have embroidered patches that spell out the different materials that make up the 21-layered spacesuit: Mylar, Dacron, Kapton, Nylon, Neoprene, Lycra, Nomex.
Lastly, this outfit comes with a circle purse that has the CAA logo, which stands for Civilian Aeronautics Administration. CAA is a fictional agency I’ve made up (that should exist in the near future) that caters to flying civilians / normal people out to space. I decided to go the extra mile & designed the branding and logo of my dream company, CAA, then made the logo into a jacket patch and a bag. I bet nobody noticed or understood the significance of that bag, but I’m quite pleased with myself for thinking that up *evil laugh*. I’m going to put up my self-initiated branding project on my portfolio sometime soon. :D
SO YUP. The truth is, my collection was meant to be more geeky and information packed, only I am the only one who knows that. I’ve sandwiched facts into bite-sized, barely noticeable details that I’d like to think of as Easter Eggs. I would’ve wanted to get more technical and nerdy (my original sketches were filled with more information that I wanted to convey into wearable clothing), but there’s a limit to my patience and creativity. I’m still mega chuffed at what I have though!
Lastly, I would like to thank StyleBible for these photos (which I grabbed, sorry). Thanks to them, I have good frontal runway shots to share to you all! Otherwise, you would’ve had to settle for side views of everything. I also would love to give a shout-out to my lovely models – Mika, Ezra, KC, Ella, Annalita, and Patricia – for making my designs come to life! Especially to Ella, who wore my helmet! I know it couldn’t have been all too pleasant, but you were such a trooper! And you rocked it, too!
I designed this logo! This is my fictional company! HAHAR!
Wew, not my best picture but whatever.
The UFO purse I’ve sewn!
And that’s a wrap. Thank you all!