You would think that a lingerie collection called The Death and inspired by the designer’s latest dark night of the soul would be hard to sell and harder to explain. But you’d be wrong.
Despite its grim name, the dark fall line from the iconoclastic Aussie label Hopeless Lingerie is anything but gruesome.
The Death is a very contemporary collection of minimalist, almost skeletal silhouettes that are emboldened by a variety of harnesses, straps and cage-frame additions. It’ll appeal to everyone from the 50 Shades fetish-lite crowd to young Twihards to anyone jumping on the goth couture bandwagon these days
But designer Gabrielle Adamidis didn’t have any of that in mind when she created this striking collection. For her, The Death is a very personal representation of a private period of crisis. Part artistic statement, part therapeutic catharsis.
Now in its fifth year, Hopeless has long been one of the most fascinating independent lingerie labels anywhere, partly because of Gaby’s avowed fascination with gory horror movies that often inspire her creations. Last year, Gaby staged a photoshoot in a historic Melbourne cemetery, and she once created a kitsch classic with her Freddy Kreuger knickers.
But there’s a lot more going with Hopeless than just campy pop-culture fandom. For Gaby, the creative experience of being a fashion designer is inseparable from her own emotional and mental journey.
The past year, she writes in her blog, has been an “enormous downswing” of personal and professional challenges — a period of darkness made visible in her new collection.
“At some point during those difficult months I decided that I needed to start thinking differently in order to move ahead,” she says. “Without really knowing where it would take me, I immersed myself in creating a collection that was going to be different from any other one before. I blocked out every voice that said ‘Will it sell?’, ‘Is it commercial enough?’, ‘Who will wear it?’ and a bunch of other questions that I felt had been drowning me creatively for some time.”
For inspiration, she watched silent film classics like Nosferatu and Metropolis, not just for their grim subject matter but for their use of shadow and contrast.
“Visually I wanted this story to be very dark, because it was created amidst dark circumstances,” she says. “But even more I wanted it to signal the end of an era. …Despite how difficult this year has been, I am also proud to have come out standing strong on the other side.”
How does all of this self-exploration reveal itself in The Death‘s stripped-down styles?
Firstly, it’s almost all black except for a ghostly grey tie-dye print (above). And some pieces show a devil-may-care boldness that is new to Hopeless — look for the daring cutout in the Kristen open-back knickers, the X-rated Wendy open-cup bra, and the beautiful Imogen mesh skirt with its revealing side slit (below).
The rest of the collection offers looks that evoke contrasting impressions: freedom and restraint, strength and naked vulnerability. All those straps and harness riggings can imply personal empowerment or self-constraint, depending on your mindset.
Lingerie Talk spoke to Gaby about the new collection, and specifically about the difficulty of selling lingerie that is rooted in such dark inspirations.
“For me it is all about turning those challenging times into positive results. What can I learn, how can I improve, and so on,” she said. “I look at horror movies and dark themes in the same way. How can I turn grizzly and morbid subject matter into something beautiful?”
She’s well aware that, in the world of relentlessly upbeat lingerie marketing, the Hopeless approach flies in the face of convention and commercial common sense.
“While my starting point may very well have been morbid, depressing and grim, the final result was not that at all,” she said. “For me the final result is all about strength, overcoming adversity, and new life.
“Death is also a part of life, it is something we all have to experience, and to ignore it is to deny yourself the chance to feel and the chance to grow and to move forward.”
Appropriately, her next collection, she says, will be about birth.
Below is a selection of looks from Hopeless Lingerie’s The Death. Hopeless is available through several independent boutiques; check their website for more information. Hopeless will also debut soon on the online artisan marketplace Craft and Culture.
And fashion design students, take note: Gaby’s blog Spokes ‘n Daggers is a compelling blend of style inspirations and personal reflections on the life of an indie designer. Essential reading!