Searching for Divinity – textile design

The theme of Divination is a development of my semester 1 project at university, where I studied Greek herbal remedies. For my final university project, I decided to explore this idea of herbal remedies further, but to juxtapose the idea of “remedies” and look deeper into witchcraft and potions.

Throughout history, people around the globe have tried to make sense of their world through a variety of methods used to tap into the spiritual universe. In contemporary mass society, the practice of divination is found in the form of horoscopes, astrology, crystal gazing, tarot cards, and the Ouija board. 

My textile collection is based on this idea: that the future already exists; but it is also important to know that our future is not fixed. Changes in our current situation can lead to changes in our future situations, and the idea we are exploring here is that there is little we can do to control it. I wanted to look closer into this idea of an overwhelming power, and the concept of trying to manipulate the uncontrollable.

Witchcraft – a visual stimulus

 My initial research began in the archives of the library, delving into historical books on international witchcraft. Visual stimulus was inspired by the book “Witch Worlds: Magic And Imagination” By Richard Van Dülmen, which included detailed historical drawings from around the world. These dark and eerie drawings set a tone which I have incorporated within my prints and the subsequent fabric designs. Understanding the breadth of magic and the supernatural world is an important element of my work, I recognised that I needed to fully understand the historical context to my topic too.  “Magic, Supernaturalism and Religion” By Kurt Seligmann and “Mysteries And Secrets Of Magic” By C.J.S. Thompson provided both a wide view on witchcraft and magic, as well as providing important historical context.

Exploring the human connection between our conscious and unconscious, and the uncertainty which that brings has helped shape the aesthetic of this textiles project. The designs give a sense of controlled chaos, while focusing on minimalism, raw mark making and depth. 

Mark making – chaos in fabric design

Using this theme of “uncertainty”, my mark making style developed to become more chaotic, and I began using graphite pens to create energetic and unpredictable motions on the paper. By exploring this idea of connecting to the unconscious mind, I was able to investigate changes in depth, and also to create a softer side to the collection; something more ethereal and dream-like. I wanted to show this range of ideas to reflect the different intensities felt by the diviner during their practice, as well as the depth of emotion and the battle with the unconscious mind.

Textile and Fabric design – gender neutral

Choosing my desired market was simple: In modern society, gender is a fairly restrictive concept, it’s important to consider design applications for those who do not identify simply, or singularly as “female” or “male”. Fashion designers are now combining men’s and women’s collections on the runway, and more fashion brands are launching gender-neutral collections.

 An important element of my design process is to create something I believe to be transferable across genders, making my collection as inclusive as possible. I chose to create prints I believe could be worn by everyone- these range from some stereotypical “feminine” florals, darker brush mark tailoring seen more commonly in menswear and some abstract, looser designs which are more gender-neutral.

 Gender no longer dictates the way people dress, and in an ideal world gender-neutral clothes should exist alongside clothes for men and women. This androgynous collection is not designed specifically for any market, its intension is to be transformative, sexy, refined and spellbinding. For the purpose of my university submission, I have visualised this collection primarily as a couture womenswear collection for winter 2021, with examples of how the collection would look as couture gender-neutral tailoring and outerwear.

I have used chiffons and silks in my previous projects, and I love the sense of luxury they bring. Placement print inspiration has been provided by the Spring 2017 Ready-to-wear Christian Dior collection. Not only are the placements beautiful and delicate, but they also have a sense of magic and supernaturalism about them too.

Explore my collection here