Feature image photography by Satu Miettinen.
Vintage underwear was collected by or gifted to me at various occasions over the past fifteen months. The motivation for the gifts I believe was due to my interest in fashion design and my curiosity in the women who may have used and worn these garments. Sustainable fashion often involves the reuse and modification of existing apparel, yet my interest is in the untold stories tat may be connected to the vintage underwear that were gifted to me.
Who were these women and what were their stories I have often pondered whilst embroidering and modifying the garments? Who saw, touched or caressed, and smelled these garments, and who didn’t? What were the life circumstances of these women? What is the name of distinct perfume that is captured in the fibres of the fabrics of some of them? Some garments appear to be luxurious and special, and others were repeatedly mended with hand stitching, while in others the obvious wear and tear of many years of wearing is evident.
My reinterpretation of these garments is inspired by these questions. My embroidery traces the worn fabrics, holes, stains, hand stitches and other marks on the items. Some of my stitching and pinning celebrates the delicate and intimate nature of the garments, altering them from functional to decorative. Some of the garments are believed to date from the 1940s and the earliest items from the 1960s and 1970s. Stories known about the garments are that some were found in an old trunk in an abandoned estate in Sterling, South Australia, while others were purchased from vintage and opportunity shops around South Australia. A selection of vintage hats are also reinterpreted and will accessorise the underwear. ‘Whom wore this?’ will be displayed in an installation at the Kemi Art Museum in Finland as part of the Poetic Peripheries exhibition.
By Melanie Sarantou (2019 -2020)