text by Maya Lee

「新しいことを試す恐怖と“白人のようなことをしているのではないか”ということで、自分のアイデンティティを拒絶し、ゴスへの関心を恥じていました。けれど、それが自分のルーツと調和できる豊かなコミュニティであり、生き方だと気づき解放されました」I & Fashion Issue : Interview with Krissie

– As a fashion student, what power do you think fashion has?

Krissie : I feel Fashion has the power to give the confidence and ability to embody whatever you desire, it being extremely multifaceted and without boundaries it can allow people to intertwine their artist expression through their external appearance. Clothes say a lot about who you are, they can convey meaning and communicate to others without words, challenging their perception of the world, enlightening and enriching.

– How did you discover your passion in fashion?

Krissie : As a child I always loved dressing up, one of my favourite hobbies was to dress up as Disney princesses which later turned into cosplaying. The idea of becoming someone other than myself gave me confidence. I’ve always been better at art subjects and loved making things. It only made sense to combine the two.

– Your makeup, fashion is very goth. What inspired you to pick up on this style?

Krissie : My first introduction to Goth was at a very young age, my neighbours were goths and at the time I didn’t know what Goth was, but I loved going round to their house. They would host some incredible Halloween parties. I went to my first Halloween party which later became my last. My mum became a stricter Christian and Halloween was a pagan holiday associated with ‘The Devil’ therefore I couldn’t celebrate it anymore. During secondary school everyone was listening to screamo, rock and metal music it was an interesting phase, but it was something I’ve clung on to still along with my love for Halloween despite everything. I attended anime club and was really fascinated with Japanese culture, cosplaying made me really mix up my wardrobe. I was bullied and was very depressed as a child and found comfort in this appealing version of darkness, it made me feel comfortable existing. At fourteen, I started experimenting with Punk styles and later Gothic, my alternative style has been evolving ever since.

– The goth style is about individualism and dislike of social conservatism. Do you relate to its philosophy?

Krissie : To be Goth is to also be darkly inclined. I grew up thinking darkness was taboo, there’s a lot of hesitance within the older generation in the black community to try new and different things. It’s met with fear and the stereotype of ‘trying to be white’, for a while I felt ashamed of my interests as if I was rejecting my identity. Eventually I realized it was a whole rich community and a way of life that could be harmonious with my roots. I could be myself and it was liberating. We all love to feel freedom and this style gives me that sense and breaks away from the shame associated with other conservative looks you might reference. I think we can all relate to wanting to feel free and express it.

– Your jersey project at Central Saint Martins was about tuberculosis and 18th century tight lacing. Can you tell us a little about why you picked those themes, and how you transformed the ideas into a garment?

Krissie : I really enjoy using contrast, putting together concepts that seem at odds with each other. My work often involves using diseases as allegories for social suffering. For that project, I explored the oppression of women in the corset by combining it with a suffocating illness and misunderstood orchids for my concept. The symptoms and visuals of the disease provided texture to better illustrate the constricting influence of the corset. Whilst orchids represented beauty that had been negatively categorized as parasitic in textbooks from the 18th century. I wanted to make viewers think about the contradictions between the disease, the corset and the orchid as well as what they had in common. Using the anatomy of the orchid as building blocks for garment design and colour I pieced together these silhouettes into several corsets to bring my vision to life.

– Fashion is not just about appearance; it is also a tool for political statements. How do you think the Black Lives Matter movement will change fashion?

Krissie : Currently, I see many are keen to showcase black excellence in the world. The spotlight is very much on the movement at this time and it could inspire many to change the industry in order to fulfil this appeal. However, I would implore many to embrace the social political statements that clothing can make and better yet seek out justice for all. Everyone needs to be more than just fashion conscious, society is changing, we’re trying to find solutions to a cancer that has feigned remission then metastasized over and over. The Black Lives Matter movement is still happening, we’re still fighting for real justice and everyone needs to know the likes of Breonna Taylor and George Floyd are the tip of the iceberg of a huge problem that threatens all of us. If we remain ignorant, we risk becoming part of the problem.

– How do you feel your race is represented in the fashion world.

Krissie: Being a student at Central Saint Martins has opened my eyes to the future fashion world, I am one of two black students in my class which puts into perspective the amount of diversity within the University as a whole. Black people are not being represented enough within the fashion industry and Central Saint Martins is a small look into my reality. As a prestigious London based university, diversity should be reflected but it is not, my class statistically is missing half of the black students expected. Which can only lead to feelings of distrust and tokenism.

– How do you feel that your identity plays a role in making art? Do you feel that it occasionally limits you?

Krissie : I cover issues such as racial trauma and feel a need to express the problems that have affected myself, my family and my ancestors. I express all the collective suffering through the racial trauma and exposing mental illness as diseases and bacteria. Sometimes this consumes me and that can be limiting. The Black Lives Matter movement has inspired to me to push myself further as I feel I have a duty to try to represent a positive change to the world as a black artist.

– Due to the pandemic, the way fashion is presented is very different. What are ways you continue to make work that is original?

Krissie : My process has not changed a lot. The biggest loss for me has been the difficulties in communicating and sharing ideas to help grow my concepts. Without the environment of Uni and the in your face pressures it meant I’ve had to find that motivation from within.

– With quarantine and staying at home, many find it harder to be creative. What are ways you get inspiration?

Krissie : I attend online talks, read books and set myself smaller projects to exercise my creativity. It has been very difficult, a lot of problems outside of my work affect my time and ability to approach the work. A regular callback for me is the show the Mighty Boosh and sessions of experimental makeup, I feel good always mixing up my appearance. I’ve taken up hula hooping which has been a great source exercise and skill that keeps my mind and body active.

– In a time where you have access to millions of works online, how do you maintain original work? Are you affected by likes and followers on social media?

Krissie : I maintain my original work by using my personal experiences, from here I branch out and expand my research sources using books, movies, art, online archives etc. I feel this way is much more successful than limiting myself to trendy social media and fashion.
I tend not to. An artist’s greatest contribution is always themselves and society will do with the work whatever they wish, be it for better or worse. I do as I feel, I don’t believe I dictate how others interpret my originality nor do I control how popular my work becomes. However, if you like what you see you can follow your girl on Instagram 

– When are the moments that you discover your identity. When is the time you feel that you break out of your own identity?

Krissie : I love discovering new music, I have taste that surprises people and like many I find pieces of myself in the soundscapes and lyrics. It can inform my mood and inspire an entire outfit or the opposite, I can find what I need to dance to suit me. Sometimes I challenge myself, for example I have been living independently away from home and facing many obstacles during this rite of passage. Recently I have become more vocal about my needs as a person and my wants for the world I live in. I discover a new part of myself every day.

– The pandemic and climate change has shaped fashion in a certain way. What is your opinion on this?

Krissie : It is true. The pandemic has introduced PPE to common dress and climate change is dictating more sustainable and conscious manufacturing. Brands have been quick to adopt masks and promote idealistic material choices. It is encouraging but I hope we can all can question the legitimacy and meaning behind making these choices to learn how to be truly consumer conscious. Is your eco-branded bag ethically sourced? Was it manufactured and distributed carbon neutral? Where do the profits go? We can’t afford to replace one problem with another, we must be smarter than that.

-Currently, fashion is experiencing a big transition. As a fashion student in this era, what are your next steps?

Krissie : It is vital for me to keep motivated despite the restrictions and getting myself out of holiday mode. I think trying to take care of yourself during this time is very important and sometimes I think as fashion students we put fashion before our mental and physical health.

– What is your advice to someone who is trying to step out of their comfort zone in fashion, to test their limits and take action?

Krissie : Make a conscious decision to not allow people to influence your dress sense to appease their happiness and instead focus on what makes you happy. Look to people who inspire you and use that to elevate your own style choices.

text Maya Lee


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