Having graduated from the London College of Fashion in 2020 with an MA in Fashion Design Technology Womenswear, Rubens takes inspiration from 18th century fashion and the Rococo aesthetic to create her pieces. Her “positive knitwear” has been showcased at Helsinki Fashion Week and is designed to be predominantly gender-free.
Arriving as part of Machine-A’s Graduate Project, the collection sees Rubens explore a playful, tongue-in-cheek study of human nature while offering up apparel that will leave a positive impact on both the wearer and the world around them.
Inspired by Kintsugi, pieces are crafted from ethically-sourced alpaca, Tencel, organic wool and linen and GOTS organic cotton, as well as vintage crochet lace tablecloths, old ceramic kitchenware, and empty shampoo and household cleaner bottles. Upon closer inspection, several of the garments feature the remnants of these upcycled materials, from barcodes to instruction stickers, each melted into hand-moulded trims.
In addition, the Canada-based creative has teamed up with Post Carbon Lab to transform the garments into living organisms that will live and breathe like plants. Just like nature, the clothes give off oxygen and absorb carbon dioxide, which is achieved by giving them indirect sunlight and regular misting.
Speaking on the project, Rubens said: “Our overall goal for this project is to redefine the meaning of our relationships with our garments, and to empower people with individual agency in climate change solutions. By caring for these photosynthesizing pieces like plants, and displaying them in homes like objects, we hope the nurturing nature of this relationship will strengthen bonds between people and their pieces, watching them transform and thrive over time, while sequestering carbon from the atmosphere.”
Machine-A founder Stavros Karelis added: “At Machine-A, we always aim to support and showcase emerging designers that apart from their creative talent, their proposition to the future of our industry is such that creates new ways for everyone to think, to be inspired and to bring positive change. Photosynthesize, a project by Olivia with the support of the Post Carbon Lab, is the scientific result of transforming garments [into] living organisms and how do we keep them alive in the environment we are in with our care. It’s a project that elongates the life duration of a garment and offers us a better understanding of the fundamental circular relationship between the environment, us, and our clothes.”
Check out the Photosynthesize collection from Olivia Rubens in the shots below and cop the full range from Machine-A now.