With her BA collection “Leftovers”, Beckmans graduate Matilda Ivarsson wanted to disassemble given frameworks and imprinted prejudices about gender in order to allow for new perspectives to develop. Instead of gender she based her concept on humans, creating an illusion of a reformed body without preconceptions. Driven by her own feelings of not belonging in a two-gender society, she also wanted to bring forward what has been pushed aside or repressed throughout history. For this project, she builds on her ideas from the graduate collection in a collaboration with photographer Jeremiah Whitmore and model Toussaint Ishimwe. “With my creations, I hope that I, together with other like-minded people before and after me, can push for a more open-minded society, a society where we don’t have to be categorized by two genders that are limited to their masculinity or femininity.”
My creativity is triggered by our society’s limits of thinking regarding gender, by how we are being categorized as woman or man based on bodily assumptions, from the way we are supposed to present ourselves to what kind of products we are expected to buy. These limits have been a constant reminder that I do not belong, and have urged me to make creations for humans, not genders. Why limit myself and my creativity to a two-gender society, when it’s not for me or for other like-minded people out there?
With “Leftovers”, my graduate collection at Beckmans, it was important for me to highlight and explore my reasons for creating. I also wanted to bring forward what’s been pushed aside for centuries because of a lack of understanding and fear of the unknown. With my creations, I hope that I, together with other like-minded people before and after me, can push for a more open-minded society, a society where we don’t have to be categorized by two genders that are limited to their masculinity or femininity.
Aesthetically, the collection is influenced by gender-neutral performance art, where the creation of your own persona is key. I took inspiration from the idea that you are not limited to what body or gender assumption you are born into and started to create shapes and forms that don’t rely on the body, building an illusion of a reformed one without preconceptions. “Leftovers” is also shaped by historical garments and their silhouettes. I wanted to investigate their given frameworks and imprinted prejudices about gender, which have been built up over the course of history. The idea was to disassemble these given frameworks in order to allow for new perspectives to develop.
For this project, photographer Jeremiah Whitmore and I have collaborated to make images representing the core of our work: to create art for equal rights regardless of your gender, the color of your skin or your sexuality. Based on our own personal experiences and stories through life, we wanted to bring forward images that radiate confidence and empowerment, but also hint at the journey it took to get to that moment.
By being consistent throughout my work in expressing individuality, creativity and pride, I hope to join forces with other creators who are also working actively to question the norms of gender expression in fashion. Together we can challenge the fashion and beauty industries and get them completely ungendered (which I believe should be the goal). More and more professionals are coming forward to work in this spirit and there are strong signs that we are closer to the goal than ever in history. At the same time there is nothing new with this movement because we have been here for a very long time and brave individuals long before us have fought for our right to belong.
Hopefully this time around more people will come to the conclusion that they are being limited in our gender-binary society. I just wish that our way of living would be legitimate and we could feel free to express how we really want to be without fear of the consequences.