LCF23: Visualisation of de-anthropocentrism with Mo Xie
- Written byLubna Hussain
- Published date 01 February 2023
LCF Postgraduate Class of 2023 features work from our three world-leading design, communications and business schools to demonstrate how LCF students look beyond the traditional notions of fashion to imagine a new and exciting future. A bustling two-day exhibition will offer a unique perspective into LCF’s postgraduate work by immersing visitors in the future of fashion through displays of design, film, photography, VR and more from LCF’s boundary-breaking students at the infamous Truman Brewery in east London.
In the age of digital media, newspapers have become a relic of the past. Newspapers were once a primary source for news and information, but as technology has evolved so too has our reliance on traditional print media. With the emergence of online platforms and social networks, people are turning to digital outlets such as websites and apps to get their daily dose of news. This shift away from newspapers is part of postgraduate Mo Xie from MA Fashion Design Technology (Womenswear) project where he focuses on magnifying the existence of objects and spaces that exist beyond human beings.
Please tell us about your collection ‘NOW, I AM ON GARMENTS’, what story are you trying to tell?
My collection ‘NOW, I AM ON GARMENTS’ began with my observations of people reading newspapers in the tube. Newspapers are a ritualistic medium of communication for me, and their gradual disappearance is part of the phenomenon of traditional print media being gradually replaced by digital media.
Frankly, I think sometimes technology replaces too many things and takes away the opportunity for people to learn about other things, but it is also convenient. It's very conflicting. My love for print started as a child when I studied woodcut printing, which has similar techniques to the traditional printing industry, I was fascinated by the irreplaceable and unique outcome of each print. Which is how this project came to exist as this collection focuses on the visualisation of de-anthropocentrism by magnifying the existence of objects and spaces, emphasising the privacy of the reading space. This may sound abstract, but simply put, it is a subjective way of putting myself into the perspective of a newspaper to observe and feel.
What made you decide in building layers and creating a voluminous silhouette in your garment pieces?
I prefer to visually present what I observe and what I try to do. The multi-layered structure of the garments comes from the newspaper itself. The voluminous silhouettes come from my observations in the tube and the conceptual prototypes I made based around this.
I shaped each look as an object which enabled me to play around with the proportions and make them very exaggerated within my designs quite freely, so long as they are within the framework of my research and design logic. When I explored these proportions through collage, I found that the structures and silhouettes created an atmosphere that was mysterious, isolated, and ritualistic. This is what I want to present in my collection.
What particular challenges have you faced during the production of your final showcase and how did you overcome them? Please state any processes, trial, and errors.
One of the biggest challenges I faced during my final Masters collection was using Tyvek and the use of patterns. Tyvek is the main fabric I used for the collection the papery texture and touch is one of the reasons why I chose it.
For me, the sensory experience of reading print media is both important and unique, so during my research I was looking for a fabric with a similar texture and tactile feel to paper to fit what I was discussing in my project. I finally chose Tyvek. The use of Tyvek allows my garments to make a dynamic sound of paper rubbing together, like the sound of turning a book. Compared to newspaper, Tyvek is obviously less fragile, but it creates irreversible folds. I use these garments made from Tyvek as an object to record traces, which will become more wrinkled and even broken over time. I hope that when people feel these wrinkles in their hands, it will trigger memories of reading print media.
Due to the wide variety of the material I needed to constantly adjust the way I sewed to fit the different coatings of Tyvek. I needed to respectively take notes of the stitch length, foot choice etc. At the same time, Tyvek itself has almost no stretch, which resulted in long discussions between myself and my machinist trying to solve the problem together during the manufacturing process.
The pattern is also very special in this collection. Some of the items, such as the mutant bomber jacket and a few of the baggy jeans, have a very irregular patterned shape which meant that whenever there was a structure that needed to be modified, I had to modify almost every piece of the pattern. It's a painful process, frankly. During that time, I needed to amend the pattern at least one garment every day, cutting the fabric in advance and getting it ready for the next day's toile sewing. Personally, the only way to overcome this problem is to work efficiently and intensely, it sounds straightforward, but it does work.
Can you tell us what techniques or research you have used and how you went about it?
Prototype is one of the key research methods in my collection. At the beginning of the project, I collected a lot of images of people reading in the tube and I tried to generalise these spaces with geometric shapes. I wanted to explore the relationship between space, body, and objects in the reading process.
The use of papier-mâché was also a very instant idea. I had been thinking about how to visualise these spaces that I was generalising and then came up with this way of shaping them using paper and glue as raw materials. At the beginning of our term, we had a small exhibition about the concept. I placed three papier-mâché on a table as interactive objects that people could read the contents through the holes in the sculptures.
I found that even though I gave enough hints on how to use them, each person still had their own unique way of accessing the information inside the sculpture. This makes me even more convinced that reading itself is an intimate and personal thing. The papier-mâché is therefore representative of the 'privacy' of the collection.
Denim and Tyvek are very similar in that they both show traces of use over time. Most of the denim fabrics in the collection have also been modified. The raw edges and the tie-dye are elements that I use to reflect the traces. I am really into the visual effect of the chaos and rags.
What would your advice be for those graduating from MA Womenswear next year?
First of all, I think a positive and fearless attitude is needed throughout the entirety of taking a Masters degree. Some people may be afraid of mistakes or imperfections. I also went through a stage of frequent design changes, but I never felt it was a bad thing because it was all about experimentation and building up my own design language. Because it is very challenging to discover your design philosophy and visual language in 15 months, too much worrying can slow down your thinking and creation.
Secondly, it is essential to document your design process and ideas. These are not only your own archives, but also help you to understand and reflect on your own designs. When you are familiar with your own creations and know the areas you are working on, it will help you to organise your time better and work more efficiently, especially when it comes to the final production of the collection.
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