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LCFMA22: Constanze Bachmann explores fashion through auditory stimulation

Student sitting on floor using music equipment
  • Written byJ Tilley
  • Published date22 February 2022
Student sitting on floor using music equipment
Constanze Bachmann at LCFMA22 Catwalk Show. Photography by Ana Blumenkron
"I do not expect my perception of physical-ness and non-wearable clothing to be understood by everyone as a legitimate way of dressing, but we have been living for quite some time with the knowledge and awareness that something needs to change in the fashion system and in the way we approach things."

— - Constanze Bachmann - MA Fashion Design Technology (Womenswear)
The #LCFMA22 catwalk, showroom and exhibition, which took place as part of London Fashion Week launched from 17-19 February 2022. The celebration showcased projects of creative excellence and we applaud the passionate dedication of our students who have endeavoured to fashion a better future.

As we look back on the incredible work showcased, we caught up with the graduates to find out more about their research, collections and hopes for the future. Next in the series, we chat with Constanze Bachmann an MA Fashion Design Technology (Womenswear) graduate who opened the show at the LCFMA22 Catwalk.

We understand that your showcase can – in a sense - argue that the physicality of garments do not necessarily need to exist in order for people to experience them. Tell us more about this…

Yes, I do challenge our perception of what we perceive as physicality in garments by creating a sense of wearability through alternative haptic materials, that bridge the gap between the real and digital world, although I do not necessarily argue that the physicality of garments does not need to exist. In my opinion the physical experience of garments is an essential part of dressing, digitally or real. The haptic experience in digital-only clothing is though less apparent. I am particularly exploring this digital, tangible feeling that can fluidly be transferred between our virtual identity and a real-world experience, by looking at fashion through a new lens and visualising it through auditory stimulation. By using sound as my medium, I dress consumers through subsonic vibration and cross-sensory association, constructing fashion-based identity experiences that objectively look at female identity with unbiased eyes. Becoming Synaesthetic Sleeves that form a wearable alternative for intersectional identities, freed from romanticised depictions of female emotions.

My intention is to create design that breaks fashion from the comfort of known physical concepts and evolves our perception of a physical experience. Design that shapes the legitimacy of experiential and digital fashion in terms of physicalness and wearability. My final outcomes developed into an aesthetic of Ambient Electronica No-Wear that can be experienced through a range of media as vinyl, NFT, digital download and performance.

Your final project is the first showcase to ever consist of no physical clothes, in the history of MA Womenswear at LCF. How does that feel and what led you down this path?

LCF is a highly innovative hub that doesn’t shy away from introspection about our current fashion system and encourages students to have a voice - even if this voice is disruptive. I am grateful that I was given the opportunity to follow down an interdisciplinary path.

Fashion has always been to me, a subject that is highly engaged with society, connecting identity, sustainability, and desire, offering a platform for political messages and activism. So, the digital fashion experiences I create are driven by my feminist beliefs that are inscribed into my process and my outcomes. They are the core of this project to create experiential female identity that is socially sustainable, intersectional, evolving and accessible. Sustainability and ethical production are some of the main pillars expected of future designers. But I wonder how the industry can meet these standards when large companies are trying to implement sustainability with a fast-fashion mentality.

Can you tell us exactly which techniques or research you have used to create sounds that evoke feelings on the body?

I had created a body of design work and started to realise that my visual aesthetic was strongly guided by an internalised patriarchal aesthetic. My aim became the creation of a process that would un-bias my work from its original state and would dissolve the paradox-relationship of the non-physical wearable, which is why I am working with a synesthetic and speculative design process that focuses on the transformation of visual information into sonic materials, patterns and shapes that stimulate various different sensations as emotions, and a haptic experience as traditional clothing would do.

By transferring design information between vision, sound and haptic, I shape non-physical silhouettes that generate overlooked female data onto our bodies. I analysed colour ratios, colour dynamics, movement, saturation, textures, shapes and arrangements in imagery from my initial research, artwork and designs, and translated them through scientific cross-sensory analysis, cross-sensory association patterns and collaborative intuitive interpretation into new mediums as noise, sound, sonic vibration, rhythm, frequency, pitch, and amplitude from which I composed tangible and visceral patterns and textures for my sonic silhouettes.

The answer to an anti-patriarchal fashion experience is likely not only achieved by materialising wear ability through sound but exploring transformative and physical connections and similarities between vision and sound made sense to me, given that the physical analysis of auditory and visual stimuli exhibits certain commonalities. Particularly the wave character as the basis of the transmission of energy to the sensory organs enables the systematic comparison of light waves and sound waves, allowing to revaluate information and link vision, sound and haptic to shape new digital and physical fashion experiences.

Digital illustration of sound
Constanze Bachmann LCFMA22. Photography by Ana Blumenkron
What particular challenges have you faced during the production of your final showcase and how did you overcome them?

I chose to make my work digitally accessible but also as experience through performance, giving people the opportunity to see the creator’s identity behind the process and give insight into my production methods. This is always something I desire to know about things I consume… but it does make me feel rather vulnerable because it is an intimate moment that is shared with people. My tutors encouraged me though to communicate my final outcomes in a way where I would have control over the quality of the sound and haptic feel consumed by an audience. Performance also allows for my outcomes to continuously develop and respond naturally to consumers reactions… becoming ever-changing intimate but shared experiences, each one being unique to the consumer.

Do you have any particular highlights from your time on the course?

My time at the LCF was a truly liberating experience. My highlights on the course were also my biggest challenges. It truly encouraged me to be the designer I want to be and to define my position in an industry that is very challenging.

What are your hopes and plans for life after graduation?

I want to further develop my cross-sensory production methods and create non-physical haptic fashion experiences that address our bodies within digital and real-world contexts. This also includes the development of my illustrations as virtual forms that will expand the digital experience of my collection. I would also like to expand my work in terms of collaborations. That’s why I have co-founded an art collective over the past year that enables me to work in an interdisciplinary way. I am in a way carving out my own niche, where I want to help companies create digital clothing that creates truly haptic experiences in the real world. But I see my work in the realm between design, art, music and activism and would like to exhibit, share, and expand it beyond commercial consumerism and really create new ways to experiencing fashion that encourage the consumer to a new way of ‘looking at the fashioned female body’.