When Rachel Freire debuted her collection at London Fashion Week last year, comments such as ‘Would sooner lick the handrails on the last car of the 6 train that get within arm’s length of this garment’ (Stylelite) were rampid. Likewise Julia DeVille, another designer has received ill-educated and abusive comments on her Facebook page which by general consensus both bewildered and upset those that witnessed them.
Sad to say I too was immediately repulsed by Rachel’s designs. Her delicate breast plates and leather harnesses which are at first appearance clusters of beautifully tooled roses, are actually un-used cow nipples as taken from veterinarian approved slaughter houses. But then I’ve always been a fan of Sydney artist and taxidermist Julia Deville who’s jewellery such as a delicate silver broach made from a Kingfisher wing is like all her wares, made from animals that have died of natural causes and in the artist’s view are ‘a celebration of life, a preservation of something beautiful’.
In the UK Damien Hirst with his animals sometimes dissected and immersed in formaldehyde has a huge following. His work The Golden Calf sold for a record £10.3 million and on a lesser scale HaremRoyal who like Julia also specialise in Taxidermy Jewellery, are makers of beautiful butterfly necklaces assuring buyers that for each beautiful creation ‘no animals were harmed for the sake of this jewellery’.
Past the scandal, Rachel shows insight and innovation with her designs with a combination of textures and tailored cuts which could easily provide for the heroine on a post-apocalyptic science fiction film, and so long as I eat meat and wear leather who I am I to judge a garment that happens to be taken from a different part of the cow?
From top: Julia DeVille, Rachel Freire, Julia DeVille