So, there I was on a journey of gender stereotypes, and looking for a way to empower those that serve, myself included.
I became somewhat fascinated by aprons. I know this sounds rather dull, but, I loved the way that the apron is considered outside of gender, and something we wear to protect ourselves from the messy tasks we perform. It did not escape my attention that these items of clothing are often sold in version which personify gender stereotypes, there is, I assure you, a roaring trade in French maid aprons, and masculine BBQ aprons. But mostly I loved the idea that I could build on the idea of a protective clothing, which could be worn gender non-specific.
The apron also offered a really simple shape in it’s less complex and traditional versions, and this provided plenty of opportunity to play with the shapes, and fixtures, offering flexibility in the potential wear of the item. I tried to alter a blazer too, but was disappointed by the lack of flexibility it offered.
I came up with several different designs which took a basic apron, deconstructed and reconstructed it, using its traditional component parts i.e. straps, to create multiway garments. I was really in my stride, and I worked on a number of toiles (that’s prototype garments) to find which ones worked best for this project.
I worked on how to embellish these garments, and as I had established a sophisticated colour pallet which I felt could work for both men and women, I wanted to ensure that some of the more progressive garment shapes still felt masculine enough to qualify as menswear. This was my first real foray into any menswear, and it turns out men are pretty fussy about how ridiculous they will look, and like to identify masculine things about their clothes, apparently pockets are really important, practicality is also appreciated. Apparently you can drape a woman any which way in the maddest shapes and she’s perfectly happy with serious ridiculousness.
To cover these conversion issues, as my garments pendulum between the menswear and womenswear, I developed removable pockets which could be fixed to garments using high powered magnets. How cool is that? Turns out the magnets also serve to adjust the garments in wear, turning hems into low crotches etc.
My final designs were: a reversible apron with detachable leather and brass strap detail, a 2-part reversible jersey apron with ties and belt loops, and a two piece boiler suit with reversible top.
Final issue was arranging the last minute (as always) photoshoot, so the clothes could be exhibited in a class exhibition, which was part of our final grade. Needing a male model, and watching my poor husband cringe every time I mentioned that I couldn’t think of anyone close by I could work with for the purpose of the shoot, he knew what was coming….
Home-made curry and a few beers usually does the trick when a favour is required. However, there was need for some pleading, a nip of emotional blackmail and a car wash offer involved before he finally agreed. Although I personally think, he looked pretty fetching and a little bit empowered in his denim kilt!
Project: Protest and Empowerment COMPLETE!!