Project about fashion beyond sight ends with a large exhibition

The project started in October 2016 and lasted for one year. It involved four fashion schools in France, Belgium, Germany and Sweden. The purpose was to explore how people with visual impairments experience fashion and thus find new methods of design.

"It has been an eventful year when we, together with people with experiences of vision impairment and design students from different fashion schools, have tried to experience, discuss and design fashion from a non-visual perspective," says Stina Randestad, student at the Master’s Programme in Fashion and Textile Design at The Swedish School of Textiles.

From each university, two or more researchers, a dozen students and two people with visual impairment participated in the project, and during the year there have been workshops in Paris and Berlin, but also at The Swedish School of Textiles.

They explored several senses

In the project, participants have tested how it may be to live without vision. Some exercises were about moving and relying on the tactile sense, others on exploring sounds.

At one point, two smaller groups managed to arrange a performance for each other, which aimed to provide sound and air pressure with only paper and textiles, while the other group sat in the middle of the room blindfolded.

"With all the movements around us, the sound and the air draft that arose when they shook fabrics and experimented with different kinds of paper, it felt like sitting on a beach with a stormy sea and it felt like some seagulls flapped nearby. It was overwhelming! We thought it was so cool that we did the exercise several times, says Stina Randestad.

The exercises were meant to inspire the students in their own creation processes. The result was an exhibition that is now on tour between the participants. The opening ceremony took place in Paris on January 18 this year and will also come to Borås. The date is not yet set.

In addition to the exhibition, the four institutions have created installations with fashion inspired by each of the four senses: hearing, tactility, smell and taste. The participants from The Swedish School of Textiles focused on hearing.

Design with all the senses

"Methods in design and fashion design are basically based on visual impressions, and the same goes for how we consider fashion", says Vidmina Stasiulyte, PhD student in the ArcInTexETN project at the Swedish School of Textiles and participant in “Beyond seeing”.

Her doctoral studies are closely linked to the project, as she explores the sonic aspects and possibilities of fashion design, for example, she spent a lot of time exploring and recording the sounds that may come from the clothes we wear.

One of the goals of her research is to create an audio wardrobe where people with visual impairments choose the clothing they want to wear, just by listening. By participating in "Beyond seeing", Vidmina Stasiulyte has not only explored the sounds of clothing, but also found new ways of creating fashion.

"I am very pleased to have participated in this project. Together we have gained a deeper understanding of fashion and new knowledge in the field of non-visual design. I believe that all of us who participated have been inspired to design with sound, smell, motion and body contact."

Text: Emma Lindh
Photo: Private