The collections are inspired by either personal experiences or aesthetic objects and are influenced by art movements to create an artificial fictional world with embodied characters. Prints and geometric patterns support the desire to generate surreal realities. The brand’s concept includes ready-to-wear pieces and sophisticated high-fashion image pieces that attract attention and reflect the brand’s philosophy – wearable art.
The collection “BEFORE THE MIRROR” presents a surreal dandy story featuring self-expressed characters between fiction and reality and between feminine and masculine. Influenced by the corseted torso of dandy Mr Pearl and the artwork of surrealist René Magritte, Jennifer Milleder has developed illusionistic silhouettes and created oversized suits with a straight, masculine contour but with a feminine inner form.
The designer aims to modify the primarily male silhouette of a dandy’s wardrobe by adding sartorial elegance through ruffles representing femininity. The dandy ́s body consciousness got translated into deformed, voluminous shapes that aim to transform parts of the body to create optical illusions and surreal reality. Prints and geometric patterns support the trickster figure dandy’s concept of illusion, deformation and transformation. The collection’s design is taken to another level by integrating the interactive aspect: the accompanying cultural study thesis “WO/MEN BEFORE THE MIRROR – The Dandy as a Social Figure and an Artificial Construct” becomes a transformed print that can only be read by wearing a red coat. And the mirror functions as a symbol of self-expression to connect the wearer directly with the viewer, who becomes part of the story itself.
Jennifer Milleder, born and raised in Graz, studied product design at the HTBLA Ortwein. She then focused on fashion design to complete her bachelor’s degree at the Art University Linz/Schloss Hetzendorf. She recently graduated (July 2021) from the University of Applied Arts in Vienna under the guidance of Hussein Chalayan, Luke & Lucie Meier (Jil Sander) and Grace Wales Bonner. In 2019 she worked in the studio of Iris van Herpen in Amsterdam, focusing on haute couture dresses, creating laser cut files and print developments. In 2021 she has won the Arts Thread Global Design Graduate Show in collaboration with Gucci in the Textiles – Print/Embroidery category.
In addition to fashion design, she works as a freelance stylist for fashion editorials, musicians, artists and commercials to fulfil her visual imaginations of fashion realities.
Your work is based on concepts of storytelling. Can you describe the characters you create in your graduate collection in a little more detail?
The collection is inspired by the typical wardrobe of a dandy, which mainly includes the suit as a typical wardrobe. However, my aim was not to imitate the dandy pioneers George Beau Brummel and Oscar Wilde. Instead, I was interested in translating the dandy into the present to create contemporary, expressive and surrealistic characters. The Thesis look creates the base of the collection story by telling the theoretical approach. Based on the theory that the character of the dandy is to be seen between fiction and reality, I created an illusion look by using the properties of colour and light. Thus, my written thesis becomes part of the collection as a deformed print. In terms of content and literally and interactively, the text only becomes readable when wearing a red, semi-transparent trench coat made of PVC film.
BEFORE THE MIRROR represents the self-expression and self-confidence of the dandy symbolically and was inspired by René Magritte’s painting LA RÉPRODUCTION INTERDITE (NOT TO BE REPRODUCED), 1937. Two gentlemen can be seen in it: One stares into a mirror, and the second is his reflection, but we see not the reflection of his face but the replica of his back. The look connects the wearer directly with the viewer, becoming part of an interactive outfit and part of the story. With this, I want to take the collection’s design to another level through the interactive aspect.
Fashion design/ Styling/ Set design: Jennifer Milleder
Photography: Irmfried Photographers
Model: Lena Staudigl/ Tempomodels
Production + Set design in collaboration with Florian Feik
Accessory design in collaboration with Sophie Falkeis
Hair&Make-up: Babsi Neundlinger/ Anita Maria Springer
Jennifer Milleder – www.jennifermilleder.com