July 18, 2019
photographs Cindy Sasha
words Patrick McDowell
Growing up in Liverpool with a full time working mother and a fire fighting father, I would often visit the fire station and pretend to drive the fire engine as a small child - in the years where my older brother was at school and my younger brother hadn’t been born yet and mom was at her job teaching 5 year olds in primary school. My mom is the youngest of eight children, five of which are my wonderful aunties. Family parties would be filled with a strong sense of female power, beginning with my grandma born in 1923 and so evident in the attitude of all of them. In charge and comfortable with their own bodies, sense of self and attitude towards me, and everyone else. The women certainly take center stage in this family. Witnessing this strength throughout my childhood has given me a deep respect for women these female relatives and women around the world. In many ways my mom is the glue that holds my family together, I saw this in my aunties families too, and I couldn’t help but recognizing that in the same way that my dad physically put out fires when he went to work. These women did exactly the same thing metaphorically, at work and at home. This collection reimagines my mom and her 5 sisters as fire Fighters. As we so often see that the strong women in our lives put out the family fires and rescue us from our troubles. Here we see a physical representation of the work so many women do every day around the world.
Sadly one sister, Aunty Helen, passed away before I was born. Researching for this collection allowed me to discover more about the aunty I never knew, and the realization of how hard it must have been for my family to lose a sister, daughter, and mother. Something that at 23 I’ve been fortunate not to have much experience with. Helen and all of the aunties are transformed into prints in this collection. Family photographs changed and placed onto waste fabric were made into clothes inspired by images that the aunties had told me they love. As a starting point I asked all of them to send me images of outfits they feel define their histories and mixed this with historical fire brigade pieces researched at the merseyside fire and rescue heritage center in Liverpool.
For me this is not about fashion, it is about a celebration of clothes and how they can make us feel. How I watched my mum and aunties dress up for family parties, how I felt when mum wore the dress we designed for her 50th birthday. How in many cases clothing can facilitate feelings and opportunities that we deserve and as a designer i see it as a huge privilege to be a part of those emotions. For me clothing is more than art because the wearer transforms those clothes into those of their own. I am not interested in fashion so much but in clothing and the emotions they can bring.
For me these emotions can be heightened when the clothes have been made in a way that doesn’t cost the earth. This collection was made from repurposed materials, with some pieces being created from reconstructed garments from my first collection. The materials are waste products from Burberry and A.W Hainsworth and the yarns are ethically sourced and provided by Wool and the Gang. The wadding is crafted from plastic bottles by Thermore and the Swarovski crystals are up-cycled. I want to produce beautiful clothing that makes people feel special, comfortable and above all content that no damage was caused through creating them. I want to create clothes, not fashions that people will cherish and share with each other. This collection comes from the love and admiration I have for my family and I hope as you look at this collection you can feel that love too.
pATRICK MDOWELL fALL-WINTER 2019
Version française ici.