Where does the identity of a fashion label begin and where does it end? What is the value of fashion? And what is the role of the designer? These questions are the focus of designer and artist Elisa van Joolen (The Hague, 1983), who completed her MFA in the Fashion Design and Society program at Parsons School of Design in New York in 2012.
For her project 11”x17”, Van Joolen approached various fashion labels to convince them to donate samples and pieces from archival and regular collections. From the materials she acquired Van Joolen cut out tabloid-sized (11 x 17 inch) sections, which she rearranged to create a series of new garments. In order to break the hierarchy of the fashion labels, she combined high-end items with mass-produced ones, just as consumers mix and match in everyday life.
Invert Footwear is another project in which Van Joolen seeks out the limits of the fashion system. By turning well-known sneakers such as Nike and Converse inside out, the shoes lose their identity. The exposed stitching reveals the labor of the factory worker, something normally well-concealed by the brand’s carefully cultivated image.
For One-to-One Van Joolen again requested fashion brands to donate clothing. The donated material is inked and used as a medium for printing on other pieces of clothing. In this way each item becomes both donor and recipient; the pieces function as a stamp and are being stamped. The process results in a special kind of “layeredness,” where each garment is an original as well as a copy. Van Joolen’s treatments allow us to look beyond the status conveyed by the label and see the actual material properties of brand-name clothing.
Elisa van Joolen is one of the 26 designers and studios that are selected for the group show Dream Out Loud – Designing for Tomorrow’s Demands. The exhibition can be visited from 26 August 2016 in the Stedelijk Museum Amsterdam. Read more about the exhibition or order tickets.