The nexus of art and politics: Veverka Bros. discusses fashion, film and the dark future with Ithaca, NY, based designer Rachael Reichert. But before we begin, turn the volume up, the lights down, close Facebook and hide your iPhone – you’ll want to give your full attention to her beautifully disturbing short film!
Your film sends a strong message through both narration and clothing; tell us about how you got into fashion.
As a little girl, I was always interested in fashion. When I was 13, I started making mixed media clothes as art and that grew into a business of making duct tape clothes and accessories for people. I started learning more about clothing construction, then went to fashion school at Central Saint Martins in London. The year after graduating I started my own ethical fashion label.
What values/messages do you try to portray through your designs?
My designs all start from an ethical base. My fabrics are all chosen for their ethical merits and traceability. On top of that base, is the value of transformation. First of all, the visible transformation of the body when wearing a corset. It reduces the waist and straightens posture, changing the silhouette. The feeling of wearing my clothes takes you out of a mundane existence and transforms you into a creature of confidence and glamor. For some that transformation is just escapism, for others it is therapeutic.
What was the inspiration for the CyBelle line?
The CyBelle Horizon collection started with the seed of wanting my next collection to be sci-fi based. From there I started researching sci-fi fashion, and other media as well as cutting edge technology. A few of my largest inspirations across different mediums were fashion designer Gareth Pugh, writer Alan Moore, the Japanese animation Ghost in the Shell, fashion model Viktoria Modesta, and the movie Blade Runner. Taking that inspiration, I wrote lots of notes about how I envisioned my sci-fi world to be, then started writing the CyBelle Horizon story. Once that was complete, I designed the outfits. They are a mixture of clothes that would be worn in that future world and symbolic representations of aspects of the story.
Your short film is a hybrid between indie cinema and a fashion show, how did you come up with this novel idea?
It came about very organically. I felt that this collection’s story was too strong to play a background role. It wasn’t until part way through making the collection that I even decided to make the movie. Once it was decided, I gathered my team and we had several shoots around Ithaca, NY. I mostly made it up as we went along. The only thing that I knew right from the beginning was that I wanted to have the story as a voiceover on top of the imagery. We made the whole thing with zero budget in 6 weeks; so that had a large influence over the final result. I had to think a lot about how to convey my world in camera while also showcasing each of the outfits. All of those things factored into the final outcome.
Tell us about the filmmaking process.
After writing the story, I started working on the clothes. When I decided to take the project further by making the movie, I had a lot of conversations with Jonah, my photographer, about how best to convey my ideas in camera. It was his first video project as well, so we were both kind of making it up as we went along. We just tried to get enough shots of everything that I would be able to make it work when I edited it. I learned the editing programs as I worked on the project. By the end of the 6 weeks I was pretty confident about how to use the programs. There were a few scenes that I went back to re-edit after learning new skills, but I didn’t have time to fix everything I wanted to.
Your film contains a social commentary and what could be interpreted to be a political message. What was the genesis for this?
The cautionary message of the story is born out of observing the trends of privacy receding away and everything becoming socially connected. Technology is progressing too quickly for everyone to keep up. The people who are able to harness the power of future technologies will be the people in charge of shaping the future.
What type of connection do you see between art/fashion and social/political issues?
Art and fashion have the ability to bring issues to light from a different perspective and to a different audience than traditional methods of distribution. They can comment on issues in ways that make people think, instead of just throwing facts at you like news media.
Where do you see the “cloud” leading society in the future?
Everything will become even more connected and instantaneous. The technology in CyBelle Horizon will all be commercially available. Education, communication, employment and entertainment will be almost entirely cloud based.