the Beautiful Woman? collection
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the Beautiful Woman? collection was produced whilst Stephanie was artist-in-residence at The Muse Gallery, Portobello, London. Stephanie was first inspired to produce clothing from paper after seeing a paper kaftan that had been made for a Sultan in Turkey. The kaftan was displayed flat in a glass cabinet in a museum in Istanbul but had so much symbolic meaning imbued in it. Most of the pieces in the Beautiful Woman? collection (Stephanie's first) were designed therefore to be exhibited laid flat or semi-flat, some behind glass, reminiscent of items displayed in cabinets in a museum.
The collection looks to reflect the vicissitudes of the experience of being female and of being embodied. It examines the idea of being beautiful and emotional, the notion that one is coloured by ones moods and feelings. It was inspired by imagining what it would feel like if all inner (self)expression appeared as visible imagery on the surface of ones clothes.
The question mark in the title refers to the idea that one can be perceived as lovely and as less than lovely consecutively, alternately and variously over time. The idea that loveliness is therefore layered and sometimes an illusion.
The appearance of that which is beautiful has often been supposed to relate to that which is replete, in and of itself. Yet many visual examples of beauty, once unwrapped, are found to be layered. In his Biblical paintings Raphael, for example, is known never to have employed any specific model. Instead he produced faces as a conduit; combining aspects of all the most beautiful faces he had seen around him to the ends of reproducing the type of perfection he imagined was heavenly. By placing a semi-transparent layer of oil paint, glaze, upon another semi-transparent layer, Leonardo would have built up the Mona Lisa’s enigmatic smile by stages, adjusting her expression with each coloured plain of paint; layering perhaps a subtle smile at first, beneath one that was a little more defined, below another that was again a little less definite.
Women walk through the world with the projected, socially endorsed, images of what their own era deems beautiful restricting their sense of self. Beautiful women are coveted and the word love is often loosely applied to a surface appreciation of that which is fundamentally unknown, thereby disallowing the inner, complex, beautiful reality of a living woman.
Women's Dress Size: Life-size Materials: Paper & thread
Garment: Women’s dress Materials: Paper and thread Size: Life-sized
Garment: Women’s Jacket Materials: Paper and thread Size: Life-sized Inspiration: The Peacock, symbolic of beauty, pride of carriage, honesty.
Garment: Women’s Jacket Materials: Paper and thread Size: Life-sized Inspiration: the subtle enclosures/garments, that surround our outer/invisible self; imaging the mind/consciousness/psyche projected onto the surface of what we wear; colour according to feeling; ideas of negative space; the colour black; the sense of being overwhelmed/ enclosed by the weight of ones own thoughts
Garment: Women’s blazer Materials: Paper and thread Size: Life-sized
Garment: Kaftan and knickers Materials: Paper and thread Size: Half Life-sized
Garment: Women’s wrap skirt Materials: Paper and thread Size: Life-sized Inspiration: The idea/ideal of surface beauty and the idea of unwrapping it.
Garment: Women’s vest top and knickers Materials: Paper and thread Size: Life-sized
Garment: Women’s Dress Materials: Paper and thread Size: Life-sized The text on this garment reads: You’d see my surface (skin) pock-marked by past pains were it not that I’ve sewn a daisy in each of the various depth depressions. Butterflies pollinate my pain. Beauty and pain are ever interwoven. Symbolism/Inspiration: Daisy - purity, innocence, loyal love, beauty, patience and simplicity.
Garment: Women's T-Shirt Materials: Paper and Thread Size: Life-sized