While many of us aspire to be a part of the glamour and artistic innovation that events such as New York Fashion Week seem to represent, artist Elce Shawe deliberately chose to present her designs from a different angle at an event titled SculptHER Anti Fashion Week Exhibition, hosted by The Living Gallery in Bushwick on Monday, February 13th.

The event was stripped of all pretense; set in a cozy space accented by burning candles, the collection was delicately pinned and draped across two perpendicular strings which hung from the gallery’s ceiling. 

Shawe told NYU.Fashion, with a cup of tea in hand, that she believes “Milk Studios has a capital on the industry right now, and I feel like that is what everybody thinks of when they think of fashion. It’s all corporate and designers don’t really have a space anymore, and I didn’t want to have to conform to anything that I was uncomfortable with just to show my work.”

For this reason, Shawe’s sculpture–which defies corporate conventions of production processes and standards–is meant to represent a “fine arts approach” to design as well as, as described by the artist herself, “the antithesis of the current global position on fashion.”

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Each and every one of Shawe’s pieces is one-of-a-kind; they are not meant to be mass produced or duplicated in any way. The collection is created from patternless fabrics which are crafted from torn segments of raw silk, and boiled with vinegar and berry, tumeric, or coffee to give them their natural coloring. After being colored, the silk is washed with essential oils and sewed together in a process that is methodical to the point of ritualism, as described on the artist’s website. In the “about” section, Shawe describes how “the pieces were created to fray and to fade, giving them an existence of their own as they experience life overtime.” 

Shawe has exhibited her work in various galleries and at various events in the past, including Art Basel. On exhibiting her work in galleries instead of on runways, the artist stated, “I just want to create a space where people can look at clothing from a different perspective, how it was made, who made it. I want them to think about the materials involved rather than see a garment without knowing where it came from or whose hands were on it.”

Photos by: Jason Xiao

Written by: Katherine Borkov