Photographs from VeniceW
Words by Pratyusha Borgaonkar
Published on July 25, 2021
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Her transformative, metaphor-rich brand breathes life into mundane objects.
“I feel that mundane objects are special, as they unify us as one human race,” says Venice Wanakornkul, the talented Thai, US-born, now London-based owner of VeniceW brand. It’s a recurring theme explored in her collections. “I have already finished the design and development of a collection and I am planning its presentation. There are always bits and bobs to be worked on.”
Venice describes how VeniceW has evolved from its first iteration, where she mainly referenced the qualities of paper. Paper being crisp in texture, her garments were rigid yet fragile, approximating the wear and tear of the material. She chose white linen to develop her textile.
For her current work, she also derives inspiration from the origins of paper, wood, and balances her garments’ silhouettes with rounder and natural lines.
“Some people told me that my recent design looks like a tree, which I’m really excited about as a tree is the source of paper! And a tree, in a way, is an object that has its own life.”
Entitled “Tourniquet Tour”, her new collection consists of garments that look mummified, or, like tee-pee bodies with toilet paper rolls. She used organic linen and hemp sourced from her native Thailand.
“The collection was created during the lockdown in Bangkok, when our main concern was how to stay healthy. I discovered ‘Tourniquet Twisted Technique’, an alternative treatment that uses long strings of cloth to wrap body parts. This humble way of using clothes to control our blood vessels is so fascinating. In oppose to modern medical practice, this treatment required no use of medicine nor surgery. This is not only so pure for the body but also healthy for the mind.”
The process of cutting intricate strips seems mundane but it kept her active and creative during the long hours of quarantine in Bangkok during the pandemic, before moving to London this June 2021.
With each collection, Venice takes inspiration from ordinary objects to create singular garments using inventive textiles. She recalls that when she was starting her graduation collection for Master of Fine Arts, Fashion Design and Society programme at Parsons in 2018, the objects that caught her attention most were A4 paper, glass, and toilet paper.
“I remember all my classmates had their own expertise in types of textiles. They knew their material very well and that was really important. I was curious what my textile would be. What material did I know well?”
That led to her developing and experimenting with fabrics to make them resemble paper. She would tear the paper patterns at the hem, drape them with toilet paper rolls, and let the creases be the designs themselves. Two years later, the brand debuted at the New York Fashion Week.
“I don’t think I normally come up with a collection based on just one particular object, but paper will always be the core of VeniceW.”
Every VeniceW collection is a statement. While everyday objects exist in our immediate surroundings, her brand is about creating metaphors out of them.
“I believe what I am doing is not about creating something new from the mundane, I’m actually trying to show the viewer this same mundane world that we are living in through my point of view. Everything I do is a metaphor of reality, even though sometimes it might seem like a fantasy.”
Venice’s fine arts background has certainly percolated into her thought process when designing garments. Recalling her studies, she uncovered a vast creative space for experimenting with an open-ended goal. She often finds herself ruminating over the question “how to design without designing?”
“Sometimes, my work is a reflection of my indecisiveness such as when I consider ‘what if I let gravity make design decisions instead?’ ”
A playful and beautiful thought, much like her designs.
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