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story by Landon Peoples
photos by Ned and Aya Rosen
web editor Rachel Reneé
At her first show, designer Abigail Stewart worked a creative writing background and magical sense of imagination to her advantage as she presented her Fall 2012 collection which was enchantingly haunting. Picking up her talents by way of her master-weaving mother, who always helps construct the hand-made fabrics, Stewart used silk and satin-faced organzas, felted wool, and mohair to exhibit the hovering factor she found when visualizing ghosts and their weightless qualities. “I wanted to bring in Nine Inch Nails to make the characters dark and edgy, because the collection is already so feminine,” Stewart said jokingly. The designer named her collection “Bone Machine”, after Tom Waits’s 1992 studio album, as she felt his music was dreamlike.
Dreamy it was. The models stood solemnly against a rustic, aged brick wall in this noncompulsory formation that resembled the way spirits of the dead might float around a cemetery. The garments Stewart created withheld the confinement of a skeleton and the colors of bones, but still gave watchers feelings of daintiness and light. “We used fabrics that appear weightless, and molded them with controlled seamlines. The palette recalls phantoms, fossilized bones, and moonlight,” Stewart described.
The hair and makeup, too, rendered that contrast, where the models faces were half-covered with golden metallic flakes, and their hair pulled into a high, whispy bun. Projected upon the wall, Stewart screened “Love & Bones,” a short narrative by the Brooklyn-based THEJACKSFIRM. Stewart explained, “the visual poem explores the return of two long-separated ghosts to their former home, where a young couple currently dwells.” This collaboration with the filmmaker added depth to Stewart’s collection, and gave a sense that she’s keeping up with the fast pace of technology today and finding ways to integrate it with her presentations.
Whether you’re a believer or not, Abigail Stewart knows just how to push one to favor the dark side. Her take on surrealism meets conceptualism revealed Stewart may be historically fresh, but her clothing is sure to haunt the industry for quite some time.