In 2010 I had the opportunity to participate in a fashion show organized by Heels & Heart to benefit the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society of Canada. The theme of the show was ‘City Lights’ and the designs were to be made from recycled materials.
With the theme of city lights in mind, I aimed to create a design that would encompass the essence of Montreal night life and the vibrance of its multiculturalism. To accomplish this I chose to use one continuous piece of fabric as the foundation of my design. Influenced by the sensibilities of the toga, sari, abaya, and kimono, I adopted their use of fabric for their simplicity and elegance. By meticulously winding the long piece of fabric around the model I’d create a backless dress with swooping split legs. Continuing, I then bound the design with an obi like corset that would support the jetpack. The fabric then concludes as two wings. No sewing involved.
As a visual artist the experience also allowed me to explore form and line while introducing motion. By incorporating wings suspended by umbrella ribs I hoped to capture the movement and quality of Marcel Duchamp’s ‘Nude descending staircase’. With each step the visual plane would be skewed, accenting her grace.
The design is finished with recycled electronics (fibre optic lamp and cell phone), umbrella ribs, a velour pant leg and air gun nails. By disassembling the night lamp I was able to put the fiber optics into her hair and use the base as a jet pack. Woven into the back of the obi the lamp base emits a beam of light and also supports the two umbrella ribs for the wings. The accent piece hanging from the front the obi is constructed from the velour pant leg, air gun nails and cell phone chip.
It was also important for for me that the model be barefoot and tattooed. I wanted her to be grounded to the earth and marked as a warrior. Her presence is a balance between custom and modernity. With her jet pack she propels into the future with the stars dancing in her hair.
The result is a design that I hope carries the confidence of a warrior, the grace of diplomacy and the vibrance of city life. She is an ambassador of light.
Kate McGuire is the model and the photography was provided by Hugo Trottier.