Subtlety…. is it me!? The first installment

I was originally basing my ideas on the lost city of atlantis, and had a very strong reference to ancient greek aesthetic….after days of creative block I wisely/unwisely (not sure yet) decided to change my topic, a full 4 days before D DAY. It might be the crazy-lady in me talking but I’m very glad I changed my concept in the end, I’m very happy with my designs, I’ve challenged myself and done something completely opposite to what I would normally do: MINIMALISM

Wabi sabi is a beauty of things imperfect, impermanent, and incomplete.

Wabi Sabi is a Japanese philosophy that celebrates imperfection.  Things ‘wabi-sabi’ are indifferent to conventional ideas of good taste, and they celebrate and embrace nature.   A key idea of Wabi-Sabi is the constant transience of all things – pulling either away or towards ‘nothingness’. I really love this idea of impermanence; that everything is either growing, or disintegrating at any given time.

I found the whole concept of wabi-sabi very inspiring, obtaining most of my information from the book Wabi-Sabi for Artists, Designers, Poets and Philosophers by Calif Berkeley; a very short but very stimulating book about what wabi-sabi is and isn’t in today’s modern world, and how to keep alive not just the aesthetic, but also the philosophy behind it. Thanks to the lovely people at Google Books, you can preview the book here.

There is a very beautiful video you can view, entitled “Wabi Sabi Moments”, which really exemplifies the beauty of the unappreciated that I focused on in my work…. it just sets the mood for my ideas. (For the record this isn’t my video).

In the past, I have mainly designed things that are defined by their ‘extras’ – a feature collar, a ruffle, a motif.. it was always the decorational elements that were the focus.  Particularly coming from an avant-garde project, it was all I wanted to do….. however, I felt like I was overdesigning, uninspired, and freaking out! It made me want to do the complete opposite. So I did. I focused completely on structure (not solid, but organic) – completely disregarded what I aesthetically believe is ‘beautiful’, and focused on the things that I normally wouldn’t… To elaborate:

– SEAMS were a big feature in my collection – misplaced and random seams that were in unconventional places.

-DRAPE was also a big part of my work – in fact, my chosen design is a drape-based piece. By drape I don’t mean loads of fabric, i just mean a different way of constructing the garment so that it has the fall that i’m after – it won’t be skintight as a swimsuit is normally thought to be.

-SUBTLETY was something that i found particularly difficult. One part of me wanted to design the standout, editorial swimsuit – the huge feature collar, the unusual structure and the futuristic design. That was a BIG part of me! I had to fight that desire (even though I had doubts – which were heightened by everyone elses incredible and innovative designs), and I’m glad that I challenged myself and did. I have had trouble coming to grips with a solid concept, even after design selection. The more I think about it, the more multi-faceted and complicated my concept becomes. I think i have to stop overthinking the idea and trying to link it to some life changing social commentary, and accept it for what it is – a celebration of simplicity, imperfection and subtlety.

To be honest, even though these are the most minimal designs i have ever done, they were by far the most difficult….I had to think very conceptually, and work a lot more with the fabric to see its characteristics. Optimally i would have been able to do a sample of everything i designed first, to see if it actually worked!

I did however, get a chance to do a few experiments on a mannequin….


Ignore the belt, it was holding up the top fabric… can’t pin into a plastic mannequin!

The following is the swimsuit I am going ahead with.. the draped boyshort:




So here’s to hoping that it all works out… a bit worried about time constraints but I’m going to give it all I’ve got!


3 responses to “Subtlety…. is it me!? The first installment


  2. Hi Ana,

    Yes, it‘s an interesting mind shift going from the decorative to the structural for your designs.

    To create innovation whilst striving towards subtly can be very challenging. This is even more so on a swimsuit, as the available surface area for designing is very small. On the other hand, lyrca allows for a multitude of finishes and construction methods and this broadens up the design possibilities.

    The wool lycra will drape so beautifully and you will love working with it for your draped ‘boy short.’


  3. sophiemollison

    Ana I love this wabi-sabi business – I’ve never heard of it before. In fact, I may just mention it in my advertising essay… Thanks for making me sound more clever than I truly am!

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