Monday, June 20, 2016

Caitlin She Winter 2016

Although I moved halfway across the country four months ago, I still consider myself a Melbourne girl, both in terms of my life philosophy and personal style. Possibly one of the most exciting labels to emerge from my hometown is the enigmatic Caitlin She. Championed by illustrator, seamstress and textile designer Caitlin Shearer, Caitlin She celebrates beauty found in nature, as observed through the female gaze. Whether it be the form and figure of the female body or a botanical muse, her designs are a melting pot of repeated sketches and pastel hues strewn over a loosely tailored canvas. Her latest offering for Winter 2016, aptly titled 'School of Arts & Crafts' breathes new meaning to the term 'paper doll' combining artful composition with digital printing to produce a line which beautifully hangs off the female body. 

While it was not instantly recognisable at the time, it's slowly dawned on me that women from Melbourne like those dotting the streets of London, Paris and Milan, have their own distinct style. For those who have not been introduced to a Melbournian, expect to see either avant-garde chandelier earrings (worn with naturalist makeup) or an iconic pair of Issey Miyake's 'Please Please' trousers. Gorman, a commercially available but seemingly unethical boutique label is also extremely popular. Each season consists of a rich foray into digitally printed colours featured on spaghetti strap dresses, raincoats and trousers. The social media campaign 'Who made my clothes?' demanded answers, but instead was met with very little concrete evidence and an Instagram post in a desperate last ditch attempt at pacifying the masses. For those seeking to invest in an ethical business, Caitlin She is printed and sewn locally in Australia, and Shearer herself continues to sew the majority of orders herself.

Interspersed among the official lookbook photos are glimpses of the original artworks which inspired the collection. Although I studied science during school, I'm very much a romantic at heart and it's very seldom that I find clothing which combines my love of science with romanticism. Very rarely do I read classic textbooks on biology, as they are so often wrought with inaccuracies. However, on occasion I weaken and can't help but appreciate how carefully each image is curated. There's a kind of love or tenderness about this practice which has since been removed with clinical precision in order to remain objective. Shearer acts as an advocate for science, illuminating its beauty to those who would be otherwise unaware and reignites passion in the jaded science graduates, present company included. 

Each outfit seems whole, and I'm actually at a loss as to how one would style these clothes in a Susie Bubble inspired outfit. Covering a mosaic of female nudes with a coat seems crude, and dressing such lovely pieces down with jeans a crime. I can't help but marvel at collections which seem so utterly cohesive, especially when produced by relatively new and emerging designers. But the desire to 'conquer' them, through the composition of an outfit which utilises their strengths weighs heavily on my mind. If anything, Caitlin She's Winter 2016 collection makes me yearn for straight forward and linear outfits with a feminine touch. While it may not always seem that way, my own personal style is compatible with these sentiments, with each outfit at its core, functional, however colourful ad disorganised it may seem at the surface. 

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