The last time we featured the biophilic fashion of Brielle, designer Gabrielle Szynkarsky had rooted her work in the dry sands of the desert. For her latest, she’s venturing into the forest, utilising oak and raw silk to form the foundation of her new collection “LIGNUM,” named after the Latin word for wood.
Brielle’s pieces have always worked to reconnect the human body with nature. In this collection, the bends and curves of moulded oak emulate the edges of a woman’s body. The accompanying photos by Gerardo Alcaine accomplish a similar goal, setting model Gaby in a naturally-lit world of wooden minimalism. To explore this collection and the accompanying photo series, Schön! spoke with Szynkarsky to hear more about her work.
We first featured your work around this same time last year. Since then, how has your approach to design changed?
I wanted my designs to interact more with the human body. To do that, I had to take my craftsmanship skills to the next level. Last year, I cut and sanded wood and placed them on my garments. For “LIGNUM,” I decided that I wanted to shape the wood, to give it more life. I challenged myself by bending each strip of wood to a specific curve, placing them carefully together into a position to create a unique shape, highlighting the body.
How did you come to use wood as the framework for this collection?
Firstly, wood felt like the right material to use because of the movement seen within the grain. Once you add physical movement to the wood by curving it, it is quite beautiful to the eye. Secondly, I wanted to use a material that was natural, that would grasp Biophilic design, to connect the natural environment through the use of direct nature. Lastly, because it is not as common in fashion.
You’ve again accompanied this collection with a poem, entitled “Roots”, featured below.
Roots grasping on to me,
Grasping on to you,
Grasping on to them.
In so deep,
Following down, into the earth’s core,
So pure there is no escaping this connection.
Yet we do,
We replace these rare jewels distributed all over our mother’s sanctuary.
Replacing them with destructive diversions.
Forgetting these treasures we have glowing in our never satisfying hands.
Destroying them until there is no glow left.
Replacing them until there is nothing left to be replaced.
Was this collection inspired by the poem or written after? Where do you see the poem in this collection?
Once I figured out the concept of my collection, parts of my poem started forming within me. As the design process kept progressing the poem kept building. When Gerardo — my photographer — sent me the photos, my poem, right there and then, was completed. The “LIGNUM” collection was ready to be revealed, and here we are!
I am able to capture the poem through the curves of the wood, especially when they get close to the neck and waist of one’s body. This really reveals the relationship between humans and nature.
You mentioned using renewable natural sources. Talk about this a little bit: why did you choose to do this, what are your materials, etc.
I have used oak and raw silk as my main materials, again continuing with my Biophilic theme — love of nature. There are so many toxic and non-biodegradable materials being used these days. I wanted to avoid that as much as possible for this collection, especially with everything happening to our planet.
What were some of your visual inspirations for this photo series?
I was inspired by the natural, sensual curves of a woman’s body, as well as biophilic architecture and furniture. The inside views of Matthias Pliessnig’s curved bent hardwood bench creation were also one of my inspirations.
What moods were you trying to capture in these photos, and how did you instruct photographer Gerardo Alcaine to do that?
I was trying to capture a romantic, soft and peaceful mood while still keeping it all very dramatic. I wanted a sense of harmony between the wooden curved elements and natural tones —garments, walls, and furniture. Gerardo is a very talented photographer who has a way with lighting. When I told him we needed to use natural light in our indoor location, of course, this was not a problem. He took advantage of the lighting, emphasising the natural tones to establish a soft harmony.
Why is it important to reconnect with our roots?
Modern society creates ever greater demands on our time and resources. We look for shortcuts to cope and keep up. On our busy days, we need to remind ourselves that we are living in the real world, not in a video game trying to get to the next level. We should never forget where we came from, as it grounds and reminds us of what we originally wanted from our lives and not getting disoriented with diversions.
What can we expect from Brielle in the future?
Expect even higher levels of craftsmanship skills for my future couture collections! If the proper resources in fabrication, sourcing, and financing can be put into place as well as all essential elements for being successful in business, then you can also expect ready-to-wear designer collections.
all designs. BRIELLE Spring Summer 2020