Sophie Rowley: Fashion for a Better Future

With innovative material combinations, eye-catching collections and great construction, the London-based designer, Sophie Rowley challenges our perception of fashion. After graduating with a BA from fashion in Berlin, Sophie Rowley moved to London to do an MA in textile and material at Central Saint Martins. She is now working as a freelance designer at the Studio Toogood and has collaborated with brands like Hermès, Diane von Furstenberg, and Alexander McQueen, but her own designs are as interesting as the brands she has worked for.

Rowley´s own collections are all influenced by the modern society and the topics of today. Her bachelor collection “Deepwater horizon” which was shown at Mercedes-Benz Fashion Week in Berlin 2011, was, for example, inspired by the oil catastrophe in the gulf of Mexico and the contrast between the beautiful underwater world and the environmental disaster caused by the oil. Her environmental interest is also shown in her choice of materials, which in this case were leftovers from the automobile industry. Her other collections share the same spirit, and are also made of unexpected or reused materials, an example of which is a sweater made of knitted paper.

In terms of materials, the structure of her creations and the great construction and sewing skills that lays behind them, Sophie Rowley is remaking the definition of what fashion is and what it should be made of. She is therefore an important and inspiring example of a designer who challenges both herself and the rest of the industry to seek new ways of interpreting the concept of fashion itself.

‏Hanna Cronsjö 
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The art of Sister Corita

“Nothing is a mistake. There’s no win and no fail, there’s only make.”, wrote Sister Corita together with her students at the Immaculate Heart College back in 1967, summarizing, at the same time, the enthusiasm, passion, persistence and wit that has characterized her personal output though the years. Sister Corita Kent was born in 1918 as Frances Elizabeth Kent into an Irish-American Catholic family living in Iowa. At the age of five, she moved to Hollywood where she would later (at 18) enter the convent of the Immaculate Heart of Mary Religious Community.

Upon entering the Community, Sister Corita met her mentor and fellow art entrepreneur Sister Meg, with whom she would later travel, teach and work for more than a decade, becoming a sort of an establishment for the local creative community, collaborating and exchanging ideas with personalities like Buckminster Fuller, John Cage, Peter Yates, Virgil Thomson, Josef von Sternberg, Alfred Hitchcock, Saul Bass, Daniel Berrigan and Charles and Ray Eames. While teaching at the Immaculate Heart College, Sister Corita would use a myriad of different and mostly unorthodox techniques in showing her students how to think and look at the surrounding world. Her idea was that art was on the streets and in the marketplace: those were the sources students were asked to draw inspiration from.

In fact, Sister Corita’s work itself was primarily focused on text and vibrant color, manipulated type and images appropriated from the newly burgeoning consumer culture of her era. Rather than using the trappings of materialism to point out its flaws, however, she would radically reframe the elements she extracted from advertising logos and signage by spatially manipulating the text. She would then add quotations from sources as diverse as the Bible, author and philosopher Albert Camus, poet Rainer Maria Rilke, and contemporary pop songs by the Beatles.

After leaving the religious community in 1968, Corita Kent’s work has nevertheless changed, turning into a more subtle, nuanced approach to art making. Currently, two different exhibitions are celebrating her work, one at the Circle Culture Gallery in Berlin, and the other at Galerie Allen in Paris. Both exhibitions aim at retracing the richness and variety of Sister Corita’s work, bringing to life her spirit of collaboration, renewal, positivity and joy, that many students, art workers and teachers could still benefit from today.

“Let the Sun Shine In – A Retrospective” will run until May 10th 2014 at Circle Culture Gallery in Berlin, while “But, There Is Only One Thing That Has Power” will run until April 19th at Galerie Allen in Paris.

Rujana Rebernjak 
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