Treeney Harkin’s capsule collection ‘Fallen Angels’ aims to reclaim female power, exposing the juxtapositions of pleasure and pain, power and oppression which are inescapable to the female experience. Having researched the history of women’s clothing such as the corset and high heels, the negative effect they have on women’s bodies became deeply apparent. Harkin created 2D and 3D body explorations which highlighted areas of the female body revered by the male gaze alongside the areas damaged by restrictive clothing. A beautiful solid silver barbed wire bra reflects the compromise of beauty and health that women throughout history, and today, are pressured to make to meet unrealistic beauty standards imposed on women in society.
Lingerie dagger clips inspired by sixteenth-century corsets and the historical practice of presenting a disempowered woman a dagger, explore the patriarchal power constructs that continue to weave through modern society. Material tests explored the use of glass, a material that is both fragile and dangerous, reflecting the true balance of female power in society. Through explorations of colours, body language and symbolism, Harkin worked to claim back the stereotypes that have been built up around women, for only by claiming back these symbols can we break the cycle of oppression.
A collection of collages that blend the past with the present, incorporating the furiously independent and strong-willed surrealist artists such as Dora Mar, Lee Miller and Francesca Woodman, continuing their storytelling in modern-day imagery. The fallen angel was a symbol often used by female surrealists, emulating the breaking of the male gaze and with it the associations of being female, summed up in a quote by Lee Miller, “I looked like an angel, but I was a fiend inside”.
As each piece in this collection reflects its own story and essence a final line up seemed unable to portray the storytelling behind the collection accurately and therefore singular images were made for each design. The two selected here reflect the daggers clips and the barbed wire bra. The dagger is surrounded by a pink hue and a rose, two controversial symbols of femininity waiting to be reclaimed. Within the barbed wire image, the contortion of the body is visible, almost painful in its pose as it aims to please the camera.