EXCLUSIVE: Tessa Edwards Womenswear A/W12

The designer explores apocalyptic visions, re-birth and mythology in her collection and this exclusive Dazed film

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"Disaster can be a catalyst for creation," explains Tessa Edwards. "This collection began with 2012, a year that has been considered both apocalyptic and mysterious in man's existence." Last night, through a short film and a series of installations, Edwards presented her own apocalyptic vision of destruction and re-birth. At a Low Members Club on the genteel Jermyn Street, a location that stands for anything but.

I explored very classical representations of emergence and birth, things like water, ice and crystals forming. Every season it's about constructing a narrative. It's always about civilisation reaching a pinnacle and then being distorted, and then working back round again

Each season sees Tessa's collection constructed around a mythological narrative and this Autumn/Winter brought the prophecies of the Mayans and the Greek myth of 'The Golden Fleece'. A collection of textural contrasts, reflective surfaces and couture craftsmanship, a strong emphasis was placed on jewellery and the natural versus the man-made; from 3D crystal rings, leather harnesses and prism necklaces that reflect light dramatically, formed using Swarovski crystal resin. The shoes were a continuation of last season, but have evolved into a calf-high open boot, constructed with springbok fur and featuring a sculptural crystal heel.

I became interested in mythology, and looked at old myths. You can consider the Mayan calendar a myth, it is not real. Even the Mayan's say it is not the end of the world and that we have just made it into this myth for the sake of commercialisation

Edwards' film echoed these surrealist and sculptural elements of course, a nude body immersed in a gold liquid pool, covered in these full-on pieces. Scenes reversed, lighting overexposed and sounds hypnotic, each element drew guests into a trance-like state, whilst sipping Belvedere and Rekorderlig. As Dazed Digital presents an exclusive of her Autumn/Winter 12 film, Tessa Edwards shares her references – and those apocalyptic visions. 

Dazed Digital: Last season your work was influenced by Ancient Egyptian rituals and the Book of the Dead, what were your influences for this collection?
Tessa Edwards: I have always been interested in the Mayan calendar. As I began researching, it evolved into this concept of destruction giving birth to a genesis. That things would arise again and start to grow. Almost a cycle of life. I was looking at very literal images of volcanos, magma, fireballs and the Apocalypse. I also explored very classical representations of emergence and birth, things like water, ice and crystals forming. Every season it is about constructing a narrative. It is always about civilisation reaching a pinnacle and then being distorted, and then working back round again.

I became interested in mythology, and looked at old myths. You can consider the Mayan calendar a myth, it is not real. Even the Mayan's say it is not the end of the world and that we have just made it into this myth for the sake of commercialisation. I looked at the story of 'The Golden Fleece' (taken from Greek mythology) and although there are lots of theories, people believed that they would go take their fleeces and go up into the mountains and use them to sieve out the gold from the rivers. For me that represented this longing towards civilisation and wealth.

DD: Why did you return to film as a format for your collections?
Tessa Edwards: You can create an entire fantasy. From lighting to sound and pace, you can create something and communicate.

DD: This season there has been a clear focus on jewellery…
Tessa Edwards: I always try and do the three elements: jewellery, shoes, the garments (which include both couture and ready-to-wear). There has been a focus on jewellery this season, but I see the other elements as things that can support that. I think it is really important to have all three elements all of the time. 

DD: You created several textural contrasts, from the use of furs, crystals and leather...
Tessa Edwards: Yes, it evolved into something that was 3D and was no longer about this story, although there were a few literal images such as the digital printed magma dress and the ice-blue lace with its evolving pattern.

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