Oona X Sohni (House of Sohn) attempts to take art from the wall and present it as a bespoke, wearable fashion – a must ‘art X fashion’ collaboration to look out for!
The world of fashion has always been portrayed as a superficial corridor, alluring to only those who can see beyond a certain piece of fabric. For you and I, clothing might just be a system to wrap oneself. But, for patrons, it’s an art piece. In an attempt to break the monotonous chain, a new collaboration house called Est. Form found by founder and designer of House of Sohn – Sohni Patel and global visual artist Oona D’Mello in its first edition explores how fashion reacts to art.
A garment can be seen as a canvas of art and still serve its purpose as intended to be worn. In Est. Form Edition I, the marriage of fashion is seen as communicable forms, wearable art pieces, sculptural installations and artistic curation. An interesting junction is formed between these two mediums, creating a unique proposition realized both on and off the canvas onto a cloth. Oona is known for her signature textile-alteration artworks added with Sohni’s design language of feminity and fluidity that makes the concept and aesthetic consideration of ‘wearable art’ come alive. The beauty of art comes with utility and wearable art conveys the right message.
The artist also speaks to Temp Zine about how in these times of crisis and despair, the role of art has become more centralized and an inspiration to our lives.
How did the artistic collaboration come about? Sohni – House of Sohn and design has always been one of the ways to express my art. When I saw Oona’s work, I was immediately drawn to the fact that she had previously worked with fabric and words. It showed curiosity to explore different elements in her practice and it felt familiar; I wanted my first interdisciplinary collaboration to be with an artist who showed that same openness and willingness to explore and create something authentic together. Oona – Through the personal examination of my own practice and process, I have come to see that at the precipice of creation and co-creation, one cannot determine the result without being holistically honest to the process of immersive exploration. With this in mind, House of Sohn and I began with and followed a fluid and organic style of work. In my personal practice, “My art is free, gentle, perfect in its imperfection – where nothing is wrong”. This was my ethos going into this unchartered and exciting collaboration. It could be anything we wanted it to be.
How would you describe wearable art and signify? Sohni – Wearable art is the result of very genuine interaction between art and fashion. Here, the art-making and design-making process merge in a way where paint, canvas, fabric, and thread all converse and come together to create something beautiful that sits right at the intersection of two distinct art forms. As a designer, my work is interacting with the art and responding to its unique form to make clothing. Oona – The purpose of wearable art is for the word ‘art’ to remain true at all points. This collaboration is to make sure that art is created in authentic artistic techniques and using true artistic materials. For instance, the black peacock dress is a painting on canvas. I have been working with fabric for the last many years and now, it can come off a wall. My artwork can adorn a person, and hence expands the conversation of art, who views it, where it exists and who consumes it.
What are the collaborative synergy, ideation and inspiration that led you to the creation of Est. Form? Sohni – Curiosity was a catalyst, and from there, respect and trust were a vital part of this collaboration. We were curious, as makers and artists, about a relatively untouched creative realm where the lines between two mediums could be blurred. We co-created in a response state where we had to adapt, sometimes feel discomfort, but ultimately learn to create selflessly and in true synergy. Oona – Est. Form: Edition I Art X Fashion has been able to create pure art from a collaboration of visual art & design through its ‘wearable art’ line. Wearable art is an attempt to shift the dialogue around art being consumed from a distance, on a pristine wall, an expression of someone else that remains and forever belongs to its maker. Here, we can take art off the wall and put it on our backs, wear and adorn it; where its identity begins to engage with the identity of the one who wears it. In my opinion, the concept is immortal. The ‘Peacock’ dress, ‘Allies’ jacket or ‘Pink Seed’ corset top and skirt remain eternal, they are artworks that supersede definitions of creativity and exist outside of its silos. Here art can live off the wall. It has been gently curated to exist in personal and private spaces through unspoken expression and storytelling.
Are there any signature visual art elements, fabrics used for this collection? Sohni – In my creations, I play with surface techniques, dyeing methods and natural, hand-woven fabrics to expand creatively. Giving importance to the structure and the way fabric is manipulated is an important part of my creative process, and with wearable art, we’re taking that one step further as I work with Oona’s artwork and incorporate her process into the way I make. Oona –My work is my signature style of working with fabric in art. I call it ‘fabric alteration’. It is a process by which I use the fabric as a medium of paint, to create form, structure, undulation on a canvas. It is with this artwork, that House of Sohn sews and designs to make it wearable. I employ this process in my paintings as well. The key difference being that through this collaboration a designer has then taken the artwork to create the element of wearability.
While the world is driving for a sustainable and ethical cause, how do you see your contribution adding value to it? Sohni – In Edition I, we used scraps from the House of Sohn workshop to create some of the artworks, which then I responded to with clothing. In terms of the fabric, I use hand-woven natural fabrics, which are herbal dyed. As we hone our platform and process, we hope to bring in collaborators who can help contribute to this sustainable conversation.
With your artworks exhibited in art galleries, has the recent pandemic created a void in both the audience and commercial space? Oona –The gallery and in-person experience of viewing art have/will be hit. Galleries have played an essential role in sharing the story of the artist, so yes their active absence will be felt by artists everywhere. For generations, artists have shared their work without the backing of galleries and an exhibition niche. I do not claim to have a solution, but I am certain it emerges through co-creation. This time will call on an effort by artists and galleries to collaborate, support, and reinvent this stage and platform of how creativity is shared.
In times of crisis, the role of art becomes more central to our lives. How can one find inspiration in art in these hard times? Oona – Times of crisis create windows in our mind. It allows us to see the world and our surroundings in an altered state, which has a ripple effect in how we express and most importantly, what we are expressing. I believe it would be necessary for creativity to flourish in times like these for two reasons. Creativity for the artist itself is a form of healing, through expression. On another level, creativity plays a role in creating joy, especially critical in such circumstances. There is always a time in all creative practices where creativity can feel forced, these times have the potential to create such creative stagnation. However, that is the time to push ourselves and find inspiration in the gift of time – time to reinvent. Finding inspiration must be an internal effort – this is a time to reset, think and unpack why we as artists do what we do, make what we make and what makes us tick!