Melbourne Fashion Festival Cultural Program 2015

Beast Cult, Melbourne Fashion Festival Cultural Program 2016

0 Comments 31 March 2016


Beast Cult

Tinning Street Presents

Review by Alexia Brehas


“A collection of garments to wear while conjuring beasts.” Already, the description for fashion exhibition Beast Cult has a strong sense of thematic undertones. Showcasing at Tinning Street Presents, this exhibition is a unique blend of handcrafted fashion and nostalgic art and design. This is the third collaboration between Eileen Braybrook and John Brooks, and their first major gallery showcase.

Audiences enter the space and pick up an exhibition catalogue, with a noticeable visual of the gallery floor plan on the front. Immediately, the arrangement of garments becomes clear – there are two sections organized in half moon semicircles. This is a deliberate decision, and is only one of the many references to rituals and cults that are displayed throughout the work. The garments are hung individually from the ceiling on altered clothes hangers. Immediately noticeable are the mounds of pastel coloured gradients meticulously arranged under each garment. They are created out of colourful gemstones, precious minerals, and rock salt, reminiscent of aquarium sand. This is an evident reference to the ritualistic aspects of positioning crystals in a circle to call upon a deity. Instantly, the mood of the exhibition is set.

Five garments hang in the furthest corner of the gallery, and are clearly the ‘darker’ pieces, as they are mainly black garments. However, keeping true to the Beast Cult style, they are interspersed with pastel scarves, cardigans, dungarees, and extremely cute renditions of monster faces. John commented that this was a deliberate artistic decision, in order to “lighten” the dark nature of demons and rituals, in a similar way that “Goosebumps made horror accessible for children.” This is an interesting aspect of the Beast Cult style – although the surface context may be reflective of darkness, myth and ritual, and the ‘monstrous unknown’, the aesthetic representation of these themes is distinctly light. There is a pastel, ‘bubblegum’ nineties flavour that underpins the exhibition, and truly makes this a unique collection.

In the centre of each garment semicircle there is a textural floor piece designed by John. Even these small touches are reflective of the supernatural, with one floor piece crafted in the shape of a Ouija board pointer, and the other in the shape of a crescent moon. Furthermore, an entire wall is dedicated to the process of ideation, boldly displaying a series of offcuts and preliminary sketches from both artists. This inclusion adds another layer of depth to the exhibition, allowing audiences an insight into the crafting procedure.

The gallery is soon packed with audiences who weave throughout the garments. Perhaps the most exciting feature of the garments is the fact that much of the detail is on the back, with audiences having to be proactive and walk behind each garment to observe more of the detail. This is a welcome surprise from a standard retail space. Clearly, these are not regular garments. The cut of the clothing is relatively modest, as the general style across the collection is androgynous, and shapeless with long hemlines. Certainly, this is a deliberate and considered decision, as the focus then shifts entirely to the textural work. The range of materials and techniques for the garments is explorative, ranging from jacquard knits, hand woven wool and cotton, shag pile yarn, printmaking, and hand knitting. Never ones to step away from a challenge, Eileen and John have also incorporated some exceptionally bold and refreshing additions to their array of textiles, such as faux fur, rope necklaces, bold lettering, pastel tie dyes, lurex thread, and foam and latex objects.

In terms of artistic partnership, I can imagine no collaboration stronger than that of Eileen and John. Their styles blend seamlessly together through this collection of garments, while somehow still succeeding in allowing their individual traits shine through. Eileen’s jacquard knits are particularly popular with the audience, and John’s monster jackets are captivating, especially given that they are the only items in the collection crafted in Iceland. There is a uniform sense of style across the collection, which indicates a level of sophistication and professionalism to Eileen and John’s work. Pastels mixed with grunge are displayed on layered, shaggy garments. I personally get the sense that these could be clothes for a nomad or hitchhiker travelling between universes.

Running from 10 March 2016 until 20 March 2016, Beast Cult packs an explosive punch by reimagining the boundaries of traditional fashion design. The collaboration between Eileen and John is carefully considered and aesthetically harmonious. Most of all, the garments are evocative, conjuring a strong sense of nostalgia and wonderment. Beast Cult toes the line between a retail space and an art exhibition, and seems to linger on the border between the human world, and a mythical, magical other.

Share your view

Post a comment

Author Info

This post was written by who has written 9 posts on Buzzcuts.

Blog Authors

© 2024 Buzzcuts.

Website by A New Leaf Media