Artist Esmay Wagemans started creating sculptures as “a conductor for creating futuristic fragments, scenes and modern allegories.” Her early work concerned censorship of the female body and took a hyper-realistic approach, based upon her own form. However, her love of science fiction fuelled a desire to create new human shapes, and her initial signature skin tones and fleshy textures morphed into transparent, fluid pieces which appear to crash into the body like waves. As her sculptures are wearable, Wagemans has been fully embraced by the fashion world, but she didn’t study pattern cutting or garment construction. Instead, her practice was honed during her studies in Transformation Design at Willem de Kooning Academie in Rotterdam which the artist took, she says, with “an autonomous minor in Hacking”.
Plastic is Wagemans’ primary material of choice, which she manipulates by hand around the human body. Eye masks and mouth pieces serve as part of her offering but the pieces which garner the most attention are undoubtedly her bodices. Rendered in clear tinted plastic and, more recently, obsidian black and oil slick metallics, they’ve been commissioned and worn by artists including Cardi B, Solange and Yseult, their molten form flexing into whatever the wearer wants them to be, whether a piece of art or a sensual stage costume. That’s quite an achievement for an artform which the artist admits “originated from a technical error”.
Text Sophie Benson