Text: Mika Sorvik
Photography: Ronan McCall
Art Direction: Mika Sorvik and Jennifer O’Brien
Make up: Jennifer O’Brien
Model: Denise Aartsen
When NEW meets OLD – glass, plastic and modern shapes goes romantic, dusty, ghoulish and dead. A futuristic Miss Havisham with Great Expectations.
Last August, I happened to step into an old graveyard, nearby Lahinch on the West coast of Ireland. Every grave on that yard, was covered with old fabric flowers, plastic crosses and Holy Marys. The flowers looked as dead as the people underneath them. It was stunning. The colours were pale, the fabric almost disintegrated, people had been caring but then slowly forgetting. With this I was reminded about the character Miss Havisham in Charles Dickens’s Great Expectations.
Miss Havisham was a rich spinster after getting left with her father’s fortune when he passed away. She fell in love with a man who was only after her riches and who left her at the altar on their wedding day. From that day she remained alone in her decaying mansion, never removing her wedding dress, only wearing one shoe, leaving the wedding cake uneaten, the table still set, only allowing a few people ever to see her. She was like a ghost in her own home.
The Modern Miss Havisham is an eerie character. Her pale skin and dark eyes are hiding something. And maybe I am trying to help to bare herself a little and let it go.It is a way of showing your soul, let people in closer and give a little of yourself. Wear my clothes and live a little, dare to draw attention and let people into your life.
A grey and brisk morning in April I met up with three talented friends, too shoot the tale of my Modern Miss Havisham. With the help of make up artist/stylist Jennifer O’Brien, I turned model Denise Aartsen, womenswear designer in John Rocha when not looking extraordinary beautiful in fashion shoots, into a ghoulish dark eyed creature called Miss Havisham.
I chose to shoot this collection in an old Georgian house with big windows, stained glass, grey walls and dull colours. As a contrast to all this we brought in translucent bottles filled with coloured water lighting up the scene. With Tim Walker and my story in mind we created a set that suited the character.
For me as a designer, both craft and a statement of what you do, are impossible to be without when creating fashion. All of the above impregnate my way of being and thinking and it affects me as a practitioner. I think the quote by Bradley Quinn in ‘Textile Designers at the Cutting Edge’ sums it up perfectly;
“If a body without organs amounts to a human being without a soul, what would fashion be without the creative process that drives it?”
The fact that we live in an absurd and unfair world is what drives me and the creative process used to express individuality and artisanship is what keeps me going. Fashion is art, craft is art and in the end it all links together. My work so far does not include any visible messages about feminism and sisterhood. However this is certainly present in the way I am designing garments. I make clothing for strong individual women. My ethos is about not being afraid of wearing something that can draw attention. To wear what you want and not follow the path that society is telling you to take. My customer is a strong woman, who is here to take power and inspire other women to do the same. My designs are bold and attention drawing with voluminous silhouettes and daring materials. I always include strong colours, clashing patterns, glitter and shimmer. I embrace femininity, individuality and creativity. With these words I will end my story and at the same time thank you for letting me share this tale with you.