New York Fashion Week will soon be upon us, so, as a warm up, I'm republishing interviews I originally did for Zoot Magazine with the Academy of University BFA graduates who showcased their creations in May.
The Academy of Arts University is definitely among the American institutions that, season after season, has gone from strength to strength, producing interesting fashion graduates.
The latest fashion event held in May at the AAU was particularly exciting not only because Sarah Burton, creative director at Alexander McQueen's, and milliner Philip Treacy were given Honorary Doctorates, but because the new batch of graduates were particularly intriguing.
Inspirations came once again from all over the place, from fictional characters and films to the Flemish masters, spirituality, psychedelia and even protein synthesis.
Mina Fadaie, BFA Textile Design, and Renata Lindroos, BFA Fashion Design, chose a terrific – excuse the pun – theme, horror films. The duo perfectly managed to reproduce in the distorted shapes and silhouettes of their pieces the skewed perspectives of the horror movies of their choice.
Can you tell us more about your background?
Mina Fadaie: After a lot of moving around the Bay Area, I ended up in Los Gatos, California, where I went to Los Gatos High School. I took art and fashion design classes there which led me straight into the Academy of Art once I graduated. I started off at AAU studying fashion design and, once I took my first textiles class, I switched my major immediately. I was obsessed with the freedom of the medium.
Renata Lindroos: I spent most of my life moving around California and lived the longest in Mission Viejo, a city in the suburbs of Southern California. I went to school at Mission Viejo High School and was part of the International Baccalaureate program and of the Academic Decathlon. After I graduated, I started at the Academy of Art University.
Who has been the greatest influence on your career choices?
Mina Fadaie: I would say my first textiles teacher, who literally looked me in the eye and said 'You have a lot of imagery in your head ready to come out, you should do textiles'. Simple as that. I believed her, I believed in my work, and I haven't looked back since. As far as designers go, my obsessions are constantly evolving, there isn't any designer that I look to. I'm all over the place.
Renata Lindroos: A girl in middle school noticed I was always drawing clothing or costumes and asked if I wanted to be a fashion designer. The thought never occurred to me despite the piles of sketchbooks that littered my room. I was curious, though, and started learning as much as possible, an effort that was aided immensely by my godmother Eva, the one person I could talk with that knew about different designers and fashion history.
Can you tell us more about how you came up to collaborating together for this collection?
Mina Fadaie: The department heads chose me to work on Renata's collection based on my portfolio and how well it matched the mood she had planned out. We had known each other before just from being in classes together, but the minute I walked into that first meeting it was an instant match. She showed me her inspiration for the collection, I showed her some similar work I had done, and we were in perfect sync throughout.
Renata Lindroos: When I started this collection there was a specific mood I wanted from the garments and I felt that by collaborating with a textile designer we could better achieve this sort of eerie feeling. So, I mentioned my interest in a textile collaboration and after that the heads of our departments decided to partner Mina and I up. It's been magic since our first meeting when I found out her own work had not only the same colours, but the right mood as well. We've been so in sync and it's been such a fantastic experience.
Can you tell us more about the main theme behind your collection?
Mina Fadaie: Renata presented me with her idea of doing a collection based on twisted horror films from the '60s and '70s, but not for their obvious gruesome qualities. It was more the melodrama and exaggerated tension that really caught our attention. I took that inspiration and blended it with the techniques of photographic and silkscreen artists Gerhard Richter and Robert Rauschenberg by taking the movie stills themselves and strategically covering them in different textures of ink. This loose, painterly method amplified the already very dramatic screen shots to create the mood we were after.
Renata Lindroos: The '60s/'70s horror films gave us another kind of antagonist, it wasn't the monster under your bed, but your family, neighbour, or even yourself. It started with Rosemary's Baby by Roman Polanski and kept going with films like Polanski's Repulsion, Georges Franju's Les Yeux Sans Visage, Ingmar Bergman's Hour of the Wolf, Michael Powell's Peeping Tom, Alfred Hitchcock's Psycho, and so on. There was more uncertainty in these films that created tension and unease for the audience and there was also a distorted perception of the events unfolding. It was that feeling that I wanted to recreate in shape, movement, and in the general mood.
What fascinates you about horror films?
Mina Fadaie: Ironically, I am actually terrified of horror films. I would print in the lab alone late at night and get scared just looking at the textiles. Through this collection, though, I've learned to love them for the fact that, aside from all those classic shocking scenes, they have the most beautifully emotive imagery. These twisted characters, with their eerie demeanour, hold so much power in their simple expressions.
Renata Lindroos: I enjoy getting lost in film and there is something so enigmatic about horror films; I'll sit, terrified, but with eyes transfixed on the screen waiting and watching as I'm begging the protagonist not to enter a room. Everyone remembers an encounter with a truly horrifying film. It just sort of sticks with you and constantly replays in your head as you're turning off the lights and trying to go to bed. I think there is something powerful about that.
What kind of materials did you use to make the collection?
Mina Fadaie: We went through a myriad of fabrics before finally landing on painters' canvas actually from the art store. It had the proper grit to showcase the grainy quality of the photos, and was lightweight enough to be mounted on the buckram material underneath for structure. Each garment was entirely engineered, which means I silkscreen printed every single pattern piece on its own through a mostly blank screen, to get all the ink to blend in and out in just the right spots.
Renata Lindroos: Canvas is the main material for every garment in the collection. Under that is a non-fusible buckram-like plastic that was mounted to the canvas after Mina printed on it. Once mounted the seams were sewn up and then hammered down (pressing wouldn't work for it) and cross-stitched down to keep them in place. A lot of handwork went into this collection and we always joked that it was like building a house!
Would you ever create the costumes for a film?
Mina Fadaie: Oh yes, I think it would be really interesting to see how these garments might look in a horror film all of their own.
Renata Lindroos: Yes! I'd love to create costumes for a science fiction or fantasy film. I'm not sure what kind of director, though, I think it would be a lot of fun to work with someone like Terry Gilliam.
How did you feel at showcasing your collection at the Academy of the Arts fashion show?
Mina Fadaie: It was so overwhelming. The whole process was so exquisitely demanding that to finally see it on the runway was almost hard to believe. The feedback was amazing: friends, family, classmates, press, everyone was supportive.
Renata Lindroos: It was unbelievably bizarre and wonderful. After working for months on this collection it was such a rush to be able to fully and finally step back and see it glide by. There was so much fantastic feedback from so many lovely people. I feel so grateful for the experience and it makes me happy to know people enjoyed the collection.
What are your future plans?
Mina Fadaie: I am ready to work. We are lucky enough to be in an ever-changing field where we will be learning forever, so I am ready to jump in as soon as I can!
Renata Lindroos: I'm not entirely sure yet, for now I'll just be working on some other projects and sending out resumes for internships.
All images by Randy Brooke
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