This first look is about the shield we wear when we find a potential love interest…smokey lenses, tinted lightly enough to still see the wearer’s eyes. Licorice black embellishments and box pleats that pop open to reveal what’s inside. Nineteenth Century Valentine’s themselves, through their complex assembly, relied on more than just texts to impart meaning. Like the Victorian Valentine’s and personal love letters I studied, my clothes have tactility and sensuous textures to illicit sentimentality, nostalgia, and connection far beyond just the written messages.
More than ever young women are faced with opportunities to express their sexuality in free and safe ways. Yet, the ability to communicate values, expectations, and desires has not evolved as quickly. These glasses intend to be playful, but send a message that resonates with most contemporary lovers.
I explored female sexuality through the lens of the Victorian Era woman, whose fate was marriage…my largest question became, how do contemporary women see their lovers? Is it through a dark shield, or through the rose colored lens of love and trust? The use of scarlet and ivory was important to my collection because these colors represent lust and purity, the two aspects of desire and love that I wanted to reconcile. The sunglasses articulate the rose colored lens we see our lover through. The glasses charms read “MANY” and “ANY” kind of love. In the Victorian Era, messages and ornaments like this were not uncommon. Women wore charms and lockets with pieces of hair, photographs, or letters from their lover chained to their neck, hanging at their busts near their hearts.
A play on the Western, white wedding dress. The flower motif and ruffles fan over her face like a bouquet and veil. Yet, women today are either postponing marriage or delaying it entirely.
“Meanwhile, the logic of events points, inevitably, to an epoch of single women…the women who will not be ruled must live without marriage.”
Susan B. Anthony 1877.
Is this true? And what does it mean for communities fighting for their right to be legally married?
The scarlet jacket inspired by multiplicity in relationships, particularly the multiple relationships that people in the polyamorous community had. I tessellated different sized hears to represent the primary, secondary, and tertiary levels of relationships. The hearts are also direct symbols of Valentine’s. The polyamorous community was on outlet for non-monogamy amongst many others I researched, including the hook-up culture of younger generations. Despite the normative relationship structure being monogamous, our fantasies are clandestinely non-monogamous. And in a society saturated with porn, semi-nudity, and infinite ways to chat, swipe, search, and call our fantasies into reality, even just for a moment, can we say we are truly monogamous? This question does not intend to disparage monogamy, as it exists to protect tactile, important values. Rather, I want to explore the changing definition of monogamy that has been imposed on women; this definition has historically meant having one husband for life, but now means having sex with one person at a time, more sexual freedom than ever, and less chances of pregnancy.
I chose this ivory look as another metaphor for the white wedding dress. This ensemble consists of a top with collaged flowers and butterflies; I started this textile manipulation with fake flowers and preserving them with a thick rubbery paint. The idea was that Western society may be preserving a false romanticism; the structure of marriage is not as useful for men and women as it was historically, and monogamy itself maintains a relationship standard that does not fit with the contemporary culture. I want to question why marriage has historically been the one way to validate the seriousness of a relationship? And if modern women are choosing to postpone marriage, or not get married entirely, what untraditional routes are they taking? The licorice black glasses with smokey lenses represent the shield we wear in the first stage of a relationship. In the modern age, we are stimulated by visuals: avatars, profiles, selfies– our eyes feel more than our hearts. And so, the glasses intend to reconcile romance with open communication. As heart-to-heart seems more difficult in a technological age, you won’t need to say a word. Let the glasses say it all.