Possibilities of Potential Selves is a fashion installation by the Finnish Young Designer of the Year 2020 Ervin Latimer.
The Young Designer of the Year award is Finland’s oldest and most revered fashion design competition, and is funded by the Finnish Fair Foundation.
The installation is on show in Belgium as part of the Antwerp Queer Arts Festival, 7-14 August 2021. In addition to the exhibition, Ervin collaborates with local queer and/or POC creatives of the country of the exhibition. Shown in Finland and Sweden, it now continues in Belgium with this series by Morgane Gielen, a talented photographer, who also runs the inspiring body positivity focused Instagram account No Babes Official. On the opening day, both artists took part in a Q&A which you can now re-listen to.
The idea was to give a lot of freedom to the local creatives and see what they come up with with the collection. The result is a fascinating experiment, where the models Indy Turpijn and Deborah Serlet were asked to reconstruct and rebuilt the garments on their bodies freely as they saw them fit. “Morgane’s pictures are a fabulous extension of the installation,” explains Ervin Latimer. “The mood is intentionally juxtaposed to the otherwise soft and warm tone of the installation. I could not be more pleased with the result, and I am so happy that despite a global pandemic, an international collaboration such as this was able to be arranged.”
Possibilities of Potential Selves – an exhibition exploring the sense of self
For this collection, Latimer sought inspiration from the overtly gendered and binary way of dressing of the 1940s and 50s. The stereotypical clothing of this era provided the perfect building blocks for the silhouettes and materials of the miniature collection: Stiff and masculine wool suits and leather jackets of menswear and conservative, yet exaggeratedly feminine dresses and flower patterns of womenswear. Latimer’s winning collection engages and encourages layering and modifying of the singular pieces, creating dozens of outfits and looks using the same clothing items. Several of the garments are adjustable to fit the body in different ways, with removable and reversible jacket sleeves and trouser legs.
For the installation, Latimer invited writer and designer Nimco Hussein and DJ and soundscape designer Noah Kin to create text and soundscape, that together with the clothing and images by photographer Hayley Lê create an immersive audiovisual experience. This experience invites the guests to broaden their horizons of clothing and investigate how fashion can be used to strengthen or obscure the expression of gender identity.
In a broader scale, the installation and its imagery challenge the general perception of the Nordic identity. It questions who can be seen in fashion imagery in the Nordics and who usually creates these images. Nature is an archetype of the Nordic identity, a stereotype of the Nordic fashion image, that Latimer redefines with the visual language he has created. Latimer has a background as a drag artist, and he has always loved the way drag culture plays with the performance of gender. Fashion and clothing are integral parts of this performance, and Latimer set a goal to design outfits that the user can modify to reflect their own gender identity, whatever it may be.
Realised in Belgium as part of The Antwerp Queer Arts Festival by The Finnish Cultural Institute for the Benelux.
Possibilities of Potential Selves – Belgian Photoshoot related to AQAF:
Photographer: Morgane Gielen
Design: Ervin Latimer
Models: Indy Turpijn and Deborah Serlet
MUA: Tine Josephy
Ervin Latimer would like to thank The Finnish Cultural Institute for the Benelux for supporting the production of the Belgian fashion shoot, Turo Tailor for donating deadstock fabrics for the miniature collection and the Finnish Fair Foundation for supporting the acquisition of exhibition materials.