“Let’s put him in a Vase” Interview with Menswear designer Harikrishnan

I was checking my Instagram time line and I came across a very peculiar runway show and unusual designs. I came so intrigued and wanted to know more about the designer and the story behind the collection. I contacted Harikrishnan and asked to interview him. He was very polite and nice about it.

What is your name and where are you from? Where did you study fashion? I am 26 yrs old. from Kerala, one of the southern states of India. Growing up i was influenced by my dad’s (amateur artist back then) life drawing collection, and always tried to replicate them. I was very interested in anatomical drawings. I went on to attend the National Institute of Fashion Technology before working for the 2015 International Woolmark Prize winner Suket Dhir. 

Currently, in London, I just finished my Masters in Menswear Design from the London College of Fashion.

What is the title of your collection?
“Let’s put him in a Vase”

What inspired your collection? The idea about this research cast a light when i was playing with my pet dog. I was aware of dogs vision and differences compared to humans, but the interesting aspect was the exaggeration of objects viewed from such a low angle, reminding me of fisheye lens images and wondering if he sees the same way others see.

Visualising the world through his eyes was exciting and humorous with strange possibilities in terms of proportions. The thought of him seeing me as a giant figure or not seeing my head was quite puzzling. So i decided to visually reimagine the people around me through the game of distortion, inspired by his eyes. 

 It lets me perceive the world differently, more like from another reality entirely detached from the stereotypical notions of the human perspective arousing curiosity for new proportions over pre-determined ones.

However, my challenge with this collection was to seek the essence of the human form in a dimension that goes beyond the normal yet not grotesque like the depictions of Jean-Paul Goude. Celebrating the extremes of the human form. No other material was giving me the freedom to play with dynamic proportions better than latex. therefore i picked up latex as the core fabrication for this collection and decided to push its limits with inflation as a key visual element.

Was it difficult to work with different materials like latex and beading? Why did you work with these particular materials?
Personally, a fashion collection is like a movie it should be a well-formulated mix. It should excite people, and make them think, and speak. I want to create something that speaks to the viewer rather than just pass through their visual horizon. I wanted their eyes to stop and think for once. And when they go close i have stories to tell about each piece.

I believe that only people will start questioning the usual when they see the unusual

Within this collection, i attempted to compose aspects of tailoring and craft along with the inflatables to create something surreal. Each aspect of this collection is unique and got a distinctive story to tell. 

Where the tailored pieces are made of 100% wool hand dyed in collaboration with artisans from NewDelhi. Also, a bicentennial toy-making craft from the south of India is reinterpreted through wearables to create new lifelines for the community. And most of the inflatables are created using roll ends and dead stocks contributed by UK’s leading latex manufacturer Supatex.

My cutting methodology for inflatables was adopted from Morphing, the traditional method of distorting photographs obtained by assembling fragments of the same subject taken at different perspectives. 

The final 3d forms of trousers were visualised and transformed into a mini clay model and then sliced into fragments. These fragments were graded and cut in latex, stuck together in various angles with high contouring to create these anatomically impossible forms. 

To take this visually forward the panels were arranged in contrasting stripes making the forms even more profound and three dimensional creating a set of moving sculptures as well as directing the eye movement of viewers. It took nearly 48 hours to complete one trouser. Once completed air is pumped in through a 7mm free flow inflation valve attached to the bottom. 

What is the message you wanted to express and communicate in your runway show?

“Fashion and humour with the right amount of silliness. I attempt to blur boundaries between clothing and high art with disruption at the centre of my work “

I believe in the power of imagery and narrative. This is a speculative approach in the context of fashion to critique the current proportions and visualisations. Out of all the senses, the visual perception is the key to understanding, information transfer and memory. Most of my thought process depends on my visual consumption.

As I live in an era where I am visually exposed to what is more than required. I often find myself in a state of visual neutrality and dilution. Especially in fashion, I see the same imageries, similar proportions everywhere. If this is the case my thoughts are going to be one dimensional and mundane. 

The way we see body completely depends on ” from” where we see the body. Like the Venus of Willendorf, sculpted by looking down on themselves. That way of looking at oneself change the way we perceive ourself.

Now i want to change the way how people see themselves.

I want to create visual imagery far away from neutrality and make people think and question the relevance of current proportions

Therefore the psychology of familiarity and unfamiliarity was manipulated in this collection to create imagery which elevates the clothing to a sculptural level forcing the viewer to stop and think.

Will the designs be available for sale?
Absolutely, i am working on the production technicals at the moment. If everything goes well, i will have my full collection ready by September or November.

What is the next step on your career?
I wanted to critique the current proportions in fashion. There are so many amazing people who i look up to and want to be part of their practice. I believe in the power of collaboration. My way is been and forward is collaborations. I want to collaborate with as many people as possible. This keeps my creations and creativity alive and reinterpreted. It brings fresh perspectives into my practice and helps me move forward 

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