Goldthorpe, Charlotte (2016) The N-exlace – Imprints of a Lost Relationship. In: Fashion and the Body Symposium, 29th-30th April 2016, University of Minnesota USA.

This is the first piece that has been created as part of a wider on going practice based research project entitled “Can an artefact be created to store the memory of lost love”.
The study hypothetically defines what love is in the context of differing relationships, such as familial, platonic and romantic the explanation of ‘lost love’ is to be explored as this changes the status and emotion felt. Lost love for the purpose of this study is defined as love felt for a person who is estranged from another, no longer in contact with or passed away from the participant. The reasoning behind using lost love as the starting point is considered here.
“Lost or dead loves, enshrined in an aura of imaginary perfection, seem to hover over all our loves…within the imagination, they take on a magical and healing power. We idealise their attributes, make them the bearers of all our good and wholeness, the healers of our wounds” (Appignanesi, 2011, p. 36).
The study will capture a number of participants lost love narratives, which will then be translated in to the design of storage artefacts. These narratives of lost love portray heightened emotion; therefore creating the belief that this lost love can be transubstantiated and harnessed within an object.
The chest is an area of the body synonymous with love. Our heart, being the symbol of love is encased here, our neck being a sensual area on display or waiting to be kissed.
The N-exlace is an accessory or the means to ‘store’ the love of a lost relationship. The natural veg tanned leather is moulded tightly to the curves and undulations of the body to allow a seamless fit as if the leather was the skin from earlier years. Imprinted on the leather are memories of the relationship, both good and bad. Images from happier times in photo booths, playfully pulling faces, letters and postcards received talking about the future and that pain of being apart and diary excerpts as the relationship broke down, knowing it was nearly over, but not sure where to turn or what to do.
In the centre of piece is a bubble. The ghost of an object symbolizing the embodiment of the lost love. A locket once given as a gift. Like the love, the locket no longer remains, but the imprint on the person is still present, leaving memories that shape our character, lifestyle and fashion choices and in certain aspects our future relationships.
The Design Process
This is a personal piece, rather than creating from collected narratives. Therefore the locket, letters, photographs and diary entries are all my own. The design process started with collecting these souvenirs from a previous relationship or ‘lost love’ and experimenting with how the objects could be applied to create a new fashion artefact. Casting with translucent silicone is a predominant part of my work as it allows the detail of objects to be captured clearly and viewed as if they were still present. I like to re-imagine objects as being absent from their original location, but leaving a lasting impression in the space they once possessed. The locket here felt as if it should still be part of the skin and so I chose to embed it into the leather. Like tattoos, the memories from the relationship are captured on the leather/skin and remind the wearer about the relationship, both happy and sad times. The design and making process allowed me to rethink the ending of the relationship and acted as a therapeutic cathartic exercise remembering why choices were made, but how they have shaped who I have become.
Making Process
The leather was decorated with old photographs and excerpts by using acetone printing, where by a reverse image is placed face down on the leather, then acetone is painted on and rubbed through to create the print. This gives a distressed finish depending on how hard or regular the paper is rubbed.
Traditional leather craft technique of wet moulding natural vegetable tanned leather to form the shape of the piece. It is then left to dry and set into place.
The leather is finished using traditional edge burnishing techniques and carnauba crème wax finishing.
The locket was cast using a platinum cure silicone and a spherical mould. The locket was suspended just on the surface of the silicone to give the front half impression. The bezel of the locket remains as an idea of what once was there. The silicone mould was then secured in place by sandwiching between the leather and secured using silicone glue. Using rivets and a buckle and strap to keep the piece in place around the neck finishes the piece.

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