From the Past, For the Future

I am passionate about recycling, re-using, re-creating, organic fabrics and natural dyes. I love the magic that is either gained or restored to a product or design. Recently I have come across several young designers who have used the ‘old’ and created the ‘new’.

untitled-1.jpgNicole Rae Styer is a young fashion designer who has turned her passion into something truly amazing. She takes old clothes and fabrics and using vintage school craftsmanship creates a “custom vision for the present” in her colourful studio that was recently visited by blogger Flygirl. Her garments are one-of-a-kind, each with its own unique voice, a voice first spoken on the spinning wheels of the early seamstresses and loud enough to make themselves heard in today’s fashion assembly line. Her goal is to draw from the past and create something fashionable for the future. She certainly has done this and recently showed at New York Fashion week.


The CPUT 3rd year Surface Design Students recently did a project where they had to take items of old clothing and created a new and desirable garment from. Their concept was quite in-depth but once unraveled into logical layers it can be understood.

The project deals with recycling old clothes and at the same time incorporates the theme of ‘Extreme Democracy’ developed by Steven Johnson which I would explain as the cohesiveness of organisms working together. This theory was applied to clothing: They asked if you are what you wear or if you wear what you are? An interesting question…and even more interesting is the different ways in which the students interpreted the brief and applied it.

Here are some examples of the students work:


Weyers Marias’s (above) garment is absolutely amazing (and his concept board filled with morphing images of his clothing is beautiful too). What I like most about his garment is the adaptability of it. Hidden underneath are a web of ribbons that gather at the neck. These are colour-coded and for example, if you pull the red one the left part of the outfit rises and the shape of the garment undergoes a complete metamorphosis.


Miriam Haynes (above) has created quite a stir with her garment that “superficially covers the female figure.” The garment highlights the issue of sexuality, sexual abuse and female liberation. She asks why can women not wear anything they want to? You might say that we can…but if you think about it, this garment would be a no-no because of how it exposes the body and could be said as asking to be to sexually assaulted. Very interesting.

Hesere Gildenhuys and Monita Rademan (above) discovered, right at the end, that their garments compliment each other and work well together. Gildenhuys has reworked stocking to create a network of intertwining fabric that hints to a stifling lack of communication and Rademan’s piece tells the story of time. I love the layers in Rademan’s piece: The fabric underneath is so busy, the fabric on top so clean and calm but because it has been gathered, pulled and twisted….it creates a conflict – the same conflict of too many things to do but not enough time!

17.jpgInge van der Post (left) used her dad’s old dressing gown. Her theme was comfort, saftey and protection. “My clothes must be my armour, my courage, my energy, my talisman, my secret weapon against the forces of this world that will try (and fail) to conform me to their ideals and into the many mass-produced clone-drones.”

All these amazing creations have a future and I think that is the most exciting thing about recycling or recreating. I love what Chantal Clarys said in her report on the above project: “Mass production is a clustering system, it is great at conjuring up crowds, but lousy at coping. The producers of mass production can manipulate us/the crowds, but you realise there is something missing, something true”. I think she is right….we need heart, soul and meaning in our clothing…because I am a person with heart, soul and meaning.

0 thoughts on “From the Past, For the Future

  1. nicoleleeartistry says:

    This work reminds me of a challenge that was once on America’s Next Top Model, where they gave the models t-shirts and 10 minutes to transform the t-shirt into fashion. When you challenge yourself to make the extraordinary out of the ordinary, it’s amazing what can happen! Very cool designs!