The Projected Collapse of Human Civilisation, Fiona Conlon
Fiona Conlon is an emerging designer based out of Brooklyn, New York. She is pursuing a BFA in Fashion Design with a minor in Sustainability. She designs as a social response; creating important dialogue and connection through her pieces.
How did you come to be a designer?
For as long as I can remember I have always expressed myself best with my hands and when I taught myself how to sew on my mother’s old home sewing machine a new world was opened up to me. The ability to bring my ideas to life and see the joy that they brought people - it was and still is indescribable. What I love about design is that it exists at the convergence of aesthetic and necessity, and fashion is a universal language. Intentionally or not, everyone is a participant, and design has the ability to connect and impact people in very direct and positive ways.
The inspiration behind your SS19 collection was the ‘projected collapse of human civilisation’ why choose such a theme?
Fashion, to me, is a reaction, communication and a conversation that is becoming more frequently centred on various instances of social, political and environmental decline. It is becoming irrefutable that many of our current (fashion) practices are not only unsustainable but are directly harming ourselves and the world around us. This leads me to reflect on my responsibility as a designer and as a person; how can I respond to what is happening in the world in a way that increases awareness of this harsh reality in a way that inspires and evokes promise?
How have you captured this theme in the designs?
The design decisions I made in this collection - specifically in terms of shapes and cuts - were arrived at through draping directly with the various materials. The enlarged silhouette of the sleeping bag jacket obscures the figure and provides sanctuary, while the zippers and straps allow for an unfolding/emergence. This shift is woven through the collection, in the ability of different pieces to be worn closed or compacted and then opened, or unrolled up or unpacked through a series of zippers, buckles, and straps. Balancing control and release, the pieces promote purpose and intention and encourage communication between the wearer and their environment.
For this collection you also produced a film, what message are you conveying in the film?
I shot the footage for the film at the beginning of the design process to visualize the mood I was conveying, and then edited and collaged the footage after the collection was finished. I travelled to the industrial section of Jersey, outside of NYC - an area that is on the literal and figurative outskirts, and observed the softness of the sun, wind and water in the harshness of the built environment.
Why is sustainability important to you?
Polluting and unethical production methods have become normalised in the fashion industry, and we can’t afford to continue down this path. As I realized the seriousness of this it became impossible to not only incorporate sustainability but to make it the driving force behind my process. It is commonly said in a fashion that everything has been done before, so one of my main focuses is on how to change up the method of making. Now is a very exciting time for the fashion industry and a lot of change is taking place. Sustainability is already becoming more normalized and is only going to increase more rapidly.
Where do you find inspiration for your work?
I am fascinated by the relationship between humans and their environment - both built and natural, and the cycle of creation, decomposition and revival that is in continuous motion, especially in such a fast-paced city such as NYC. Clothing, as the chosen created environment of each individual, can act as a barrier to the outside, and a physical projection of an emotional or psychological state. I am also incredibly inspired by water and light, and the ability to at once exist in as well as transform any space or atmosphere.
What can we expect from you over the next few seasons?
I will continue with using secondhand textiles, delving deeper into textile development and manipulation. I plan on continuing to create new materials through addition and subtraction, as well as exploring different dyeing techniques using found objects. I welcome the challenges that are brought through creating from found materials, as I feel those limitations are what brings about the most compelling results.
Photographer: Lærke Rose Møllegoaard
Model: Rohan Shetty