HOROSCOPE? Believe or not to believe is a personal choice, but in looking at various angles in showcasing this body of work, I chose to examine a designer’s creative intent around the topic of astrological signs, which have social, cultural, and technical implications.
Fashion is about conviction, Petzke unfolds fashion as a deeper conversation on how art can be a visual document of pop culture and its influence on society.
German born designer, Laura Petzke, created “Elements”, a collection based on specific human characteristics assigned to the four elements of astrology – fire, water, earth, air; plus she added a hybrid element. Astrology is defined as the study of the movements and relative positions of celestial bodies interpreted as having an influence on human affairs and the natural world, as many of us refer to the signs of the zodiac. Each Zodiac sign represents an element, for example, Aquarius, Gemini, and Libra, are air signs.
Petzke uses astrology as a tool to understand where our different behaviors come from. She told Schön! Magazine, “I kept researching to find answers on why some people act in certain ways that others do not. The concept of perception is so unique and yet some specific traits appear to repeat themselves naturally. Through a dear friend, I learned the basics of astrology, which have nothing to do with fortune-telling or anything supernatural, as some might suggest. It is more about analyzing human characteristics. The more I dealt with it, the better I could understand other people’s behaviours and perceptions, which lead me to have a higher acceptance and thus better communication towards others.”
Many designers create compositions influenced by social behaviors, but to create art or a body of work that represents astrological elements tied to individual behavioral characteristics is advanced in the way we look at fashion. It’s an intellectual and anthropological approach in how we talk about fashion and how a wearer may identify with a piece.
My sign is Gemini. At the time of writing this, a clip from astrology.com monthly forecast said this about Gemini, “The lunar eclipse in the sign of Taurus on the nineteenth can be another reminder that relaxing and recharging are not a waste of time but a necessity. This allows you to refill your creative well, so make it non negotiable. With your energy stocks replenished, you can get back to work with enthusiasm.” This feels good and I’m on board if the month plays out this way, BUT since I do not follow my horoscope, and pass no judgement on those who do, how does this connect to what I choose to wear? Many people do not choose what they are going to wear based on their astrological signs.
The point to be made here is that Petzke’s intent in creating “Elements” was to not only engage with the aesthetics, but to have a conversation. It goes beyond clothes to buy and wear. She dives deep into the negative and positive traits and the pure essence of each of the 12 signs, but cautions to not pigeonhole types of people, rather recognize the traits that overlap which gives us our individuality. She says, “What I love about the zodiac sign system is that each sign represents a positive and negative trait in its purest existence. Obviously, there are not just 12 types of people in this world, categorized in 4 main groups. A lot of these traits are overlapping. If you do some research, you will learn that someone’s character is created by the sum of various aspects regarding to the planet constellation while the person was born. Meaning that we all own a certain percentage of almost every sign, which leads our personality to develop itself individually.”
What fascinates me is that the purpose and meaning behind her collection is lost at retail. When you are shopping and select an item, you do not know the creative intent of that garment, nor do most people care. But if we did understand the thinking, vision, or thematic substance of a garment, we may value clothes differently. Fashion may have more of a reason or meaning to consume with regard to not discard. “Elements”, an inventive composition, is an example of a body of work that can be viewed as art and/or worn on the body. And because fashion is about conviction, Petzke unfolds fashion as a deeper conversation on how art can be a visual document of pop culture and its influence on society.
Petzke presents a minimalist and futuristic design signature as a path of differentiation in her design practice. We begin to examine and connect the dots of her vision and execution by her technical use of shape, drape, color, and fabric in pairing human behavioral characteristics with representation of the zodiac system. One could argue an anthropological take using symbolic and artistic gestures in her design. Her love for art and discovery of techniques in creating shapes and textures as an intern for the atelier of Iris Van Herpen, allowed her to apply the artistic side of fashion in “Elements”. At an early age, she took an affinity to the arts and from her designer profile at Neo.Fashion.de said, “Ever since I was a kid, I’ve been very passionate about drawing and basically everything creative or artistic”.
A new breed of designers are affecting how we value clothing, and Petzke is one of them. They are culturally astute and are determined to communicate their work as art. Creating outside of a mass-produced mentality, they generate designs that are limited, coveted, intellectually talked about, tell a story, and are meaningful.
Petzke describes how she represents the symbolic and characteristic nature of each of the four elements plus adds Hybrid, showing the need of unity for all four, “The fifth look is supposed to be an equalized mixture of all existing traits delivering a well-balanced atmosphere”.
From her words, NeoFashion graduate profile:
L. Petzke: The first look embodies the most dominant of all elements – fire. The element of fire is represented in the zodiac through Aries, Leo, and Sagittarius. Like fire itself, fire signs tend to be passionate, dynamic, and temperamental. This element symbolizes pure energy, power, and strength, which contain both creative and destructive traits. This look is all about expressing confidence. Therefore, to guarantee a dominant and fierce appearance, the shoulders are in focus as they are the decisive part of the body. This impression is additionally enhanced by a slim waist, straight cuts, and striking, luminous materials.
L.P.: Intuitive, emotional, and ultra-sensitive – water signs can be as mysterious as the ocean itself. The element of water is represented in the zodiac through Pisces, Cancer, and Scorpio. Like water, they can be refreshing, or they can drown into their depths. Water signs are submerged in their surroundings, often sensing the hidden emotional reality. This element can be dramatic and attached but symbolizes purity, empathy, and imagination at the same time. The appearance of this look is intended to be soft and fragile. Similar to water, the fabric is fluent and shimmery with no stability. It moves around and changes its shape constantly.
L.P.: Earth signs are considered to be the “grounded” people of the planet, who embrace hard work, commitment, and truth. The element of Earth is represented in the zodiac through Taurus, Virgo, and Capricorn. They take pride in their discipline and their reliable reputations. Like the Earth’s ground, these signs embody stability. They symbolize ambition, security, strength, and maturity. To emphasize the strong and ambitious appearance of this look, the shoulders are accentuated, supported by a slim waist and long legs. Precise and detailed patterns with several earth tones are the focus.
L.P.: Air is the element of the mind, represented in the zodiac through Aquarius, Gemini, and Libra. Air signs are all about action, ideas, and motion – they are the “winds of change.” Air signs also require extensive freedom of movement in order to express their ideas and individuality. Furthermore, they embody transformation, lightness, and creativity, which lead them to be curious and open-minded, but simultaneously detached and unavailable. This look is all about transparency. With a loose fit and transparent materials, it matches the air sign’s open-minded and transparent personality. The cuts are simple, yet innovative since the outfit can be worn by women and men to express the element’s mutability.
L.P.: The general definition of a hybrid would be a mixture of two parties, but for me and my collection I thought of it as is a mixture of all elements compromised as one piece. Each element presents itself as a part of integrity, whereas the “hybrid” symbolizes the unity of all elements, thus all human characteristics. Its dominant shape can be associated with fire, the precision and detailed composition is connected to Earth, the luminous shine is reminiscent of water, and the androgynous wearability is related to the changeability of air. Each element plays an important role in nature to create life on this planet. If one of the four elements were missing, life on Earth would not be possible. Only together they can work as a system.
Congratulations Laura! Amazing work of art! Keep creating.
More on Laura Petzke: @petzke_designs
Follow EDGExpo.com to receive stories that look at an artistic, practical, and intelligent look at fashion. Click on the button to Sign Up, located in the far-right column.