Meet the wonderful work of Leonie Barth(26), recently graduated from the University of Applied Sciences in Bielefeld, Germany. Leonie’s is quite a conceptual thinker and her clothes are more than meets the eye, for her it is also important not only to create a fashionable garment, but also to convey a message with her work.
Ivania/ Why did you choose to focus on fashion, has it always been something you’ve been interested in?
Leonie/ Ever since I can remember, I have always been fascinated by designing and being creative. Moreover, I have been always interested in philosophy and social sciences. I love to observe people, how they dress and how they behave- what they want to express through their clothing. I chose to focus on fashion because in our everyday lives we communicate identity and social position primarily by means of our clothing. We are visual and social entities and need to communicate never only by voice but also by sight.
For me, fashion is an important component of our social being. I am a very visual person and I couldn’t imagine to do anything else than designing.
Ivania/ Please do tell us about Ich ist win Anderer(I is an other), how did you come to this concept for inspiration?
Leonie/ I was always fascinated by the phenomenon of personal identity, how we develop and which context the outer appearance matters for our identity. At the beginning of my research I dealt with Jean Paul Sartre’s „Huis Clos“ and with Jacques Lacans „mirror stage“, that discusses the awareness of our ego as a subject as well as an object. After my research, my key assumption was, that identity does not exist without a visible surface and its reflections. Mirroring ourselves is imperative to construct our own identity. When I talk about “mirroring” I do not only mean a surface that reflects ones image, I also want to convey, that we need the reflecting of another person, our counterpart. We can only become socialized personalities by observing and imitating- this is the “mirroring”. The collection is inspired by Lacan’s philosophic thought and the resulting idea that our mirror image completes our identity.
Ivania/ How did you translate such an almost abstract idea into clothes?
Leonie/ I wanted to boil this abstract idea down to the essence. Simply spoken my idea was: Mirroring completes identity- Why not just visualise this thought into the idea of completing the garment by using a mirror? I started to split my toiles in two, flapped and folded garments into halve ones, developed architectural prints with hidden slogans which only appear in their own reflection and experimented with integrating mirrors into the garment. The idea, to realize the missing part by turning up the existing part or to button it, is partly engendered by this collection. First, there is only a half lapel collar; there is only a half leg of a pair of trousers; there is only a half print. Skirts and coats with their asymmetrical clasp hide under their surface an object, which will make them a symmetrical outfit: the mirror. Because of the way it is integrated into the clothing, its mirror axis is congruent with the bilateral axis of the wearer. By opening the clothes the half elements are mirrored. The half lapel collar of the coat is doubled. The skirt is turned visually into a pair of trousers. The mirror completes the design and creates the whole image. The collection follows the principles of symmetry and expresses the complementation of our egos. Clothes develop through the reflection of their own image. Missing parts are added and existing parts are reflected to create completeness.