Retro Reflections is a collection inspired by the late 80's early 90's were fashion was wild, crazy , colourful and expressive. No one cared about how they dressed it was the style. It was loud and also very urban at the same time. I love the neon vibes it brings from such cultures like Miami vice to the Vegas strip. I can't place it but I love it because people were bold, brave and beautiful and just generally authentic.
During the 1980's hair accessories was all the rage especially scrunchies. Make up was another way to express yourself along with brightly coloured clothes to make a statement along side big wild hair; the more wild and big the hair was the more cool you were. Shoulder pads were also worn to show empowerment. Business like fashion designed by Italian designer Elsa Schiaprellis in 1931 fall/winter collection. This was a movement called "Power dressing". They wanted to show they were capable in society and wanted to look more masculine
James Laver was one of the first to study fashion as science during the 1930's. His most well known contribution was Lavers law which puttied the life cycle of fashion trends by stating that trends doesn't "in" again until 50 years after its time more recently studies have found that laver law is still relevant today but more condescend. Some experts believe fashion trends get killed off die to boredom as it needs to disappear before it can be rediscovered.
This inspired me to look around and do some mindful photography. I had always been interested in the neon lights ever since my photography project during my Masters degree (which you can find here)
However, I wanted to emulate this and noticed there was a lot of neon signs which gave an interesting vibe and also shows me how things change yet stay the same and how fashion circulates. I do find that its only when someone pays attentions to these things it becomes more noticed and therefore more beautiful to when you initially ;aid your eyes on it. Sometimes you need to stop looking to really see and take it in.
I compiled a variety of images that appeared both retro and vintage to empahsise how modern days emulates trends back then and ho trends back then are becoming trends now. Using my iPhone I used something that is used in this futurist era to juxtapose how people really want to live ie. have this vintage retro feel of photos with neon lights and dust on the lence. But not using the type of camera that was used back then which I imagine is just a normal film camera. However, I can see how efficient using your phone and using filters to emulate this type of camera affect seems more convent to todays quick living and demanding society, but I do feel it misses the essence and expericne of a real film camera. I do find it hilarious that its actually bad to have dust in he lense and pretty annoying to some photographers who want a clear capture so its funny to have the option of choosing to have dust in the sense. Ill make sue to bring my talcum powder next time I'm doing a shoot.
Below is a photo book that I have compiled full of my photos that I took to convey how I feel about modern day vs 80's fashion/style. This is to show how trends circulate s it repeats in modern day but also vintage cars have also become a cool collectable to have. I find that as the viewer you interpret how you want others to see. I just so happen to find these things very retro and vintage I had to emphasis my perspective.
After doing this it inspired me to make a new jewellery collection I wanted to hit out with this new theme of the 80's and how timeless it really can be and the feel good vibe it contains. But at the same time still connect it with my theme of mental health as it still creates a relevant vibe here through the connection of memory and nostalgia. I was first looking at trends of the 90's with things like Betty spaghetti, video cartridges and lipgloss... lots of it!
After looking at trends to get inspiration no shapes were coming only the nostalgia and the vibe I wanted to create. Neon was something that always intrested me firm wise and colour wise and general vibe wise. I then looked at gaming cuture during the 80's and 90's and the VHS like game systems. Arcades were also something that blew up during this late 80's 90's era and it definalty was bright and vibrant! Just what I needed and something with shape could help me get inspired to create a form.... I hoped.
From the bright intensity of the neon lights to the colour of blue and pink which really stood out to me especially pink as this was THE colour association maybe cause of the Russian Cold War? Whatever the reason pink was all over this era and I love it. I also saw that Memphis pattern was a huge deal during the 80s again bright colours and patterns. Im not sure why but it was every were from clothes, to furniture to wallpaper to jewellery to even tv shows and sets like Save by the Bell. neon and Memphis was practically iconic in this be it true fashion or not... if anything they made it bigger.
Memphis patterns are these geometric shapes that look like they should'nt go together on a page but somehow does and here is so many variations of these it baffles me. I typically don't like geometric patterns but after looking intensively at a couple of patterns I don't know what it is but the colours just draw me in and making it ok for my brain to be like "yeah it works" even tho some of the shapes are a mix of flat and 3d shapes.
This Memphis design inspired a whole bunch of earrings I made from polymer clay. Earrings is something that interests me and its also a place were people feel nervouse and most likely touch their earrings. Earring are in my opinion pretty artistic because they allow you to be as expressive and strange. The stranger the earing the more appealing. Similar to broaches but for some reason earrings are more popular. Therefore I wanted to create a series of earrings and since the memphis designs are so individual and you can capture any type of shape and call it an earring. Like literally pick a shape and stick it to a bit of wire and VIOLA you have an earring. But obviously you put your own spin on it so sticking to the theme of hanging mental health through scent and touch was essential but at the same time encouraging people to be "BOLD BRAVE and BEAUTIFUL"with this type of edgy style and also experimenting with other materials such as the clay just to see how it goes because in design you gotta not be a one trick pony.
Using polymore clay does feel weird gives this element of play. Initially I wanted to use enamels and I did try on wire but it dint give me the results I wanted perhaps it needs dips or sprayed but the earrings did allow for an intresting texture and coined with metal provides a sense of edgy-ness and also flocking (furry) also creates that feel good texture in the earrings.
The brooches that are also shown are based on neon signs and I liked the idea of wearing these to feel empowered with one saying "life is beautiful" and the other saying "make some trouble" I like the idea that this can help someone feel empowered similarly to the "power dressing" in the 80's I wanted to have this type of effect in these brooches. At the same time create the trend #beboldbebravebebeautiful
Using laser cut wood I liked having the idea of "power statements" as well as it reflecting or being inspired by neon signs. Sometimes its nice to have little reminders to embrace and be confidence and maybe something to let people know everything is going to be ok. Little reminders like this make me feel better especially "life is beautiful" in contrast with todays situation you can alway see the beauty in something in my opinion just depends on your perspective. Life is full of lessons you never stop learning, you never stop improving. You never know mix it up "make some trouble" be confident in who you are. When it says "make some trouble" it doesn't mean commit fellonis or make someone feel bad at ALLL . It basically a confidence thing in the sense of be brave be confident make a statement through the way you dress obviously don't be afraid to speak how you feel, embrace it and share it. Spread and inspire.
However, a lot of the time its hard to tell people how we feel. We tend to lock things inside of us and not share. Perhaps its because of lack of confidence or social acceptance cut thats the thing we have to be brave and not lock it in our selves as it will just come out in other forms that hurt the people we care about. Even having something subtle such as this necklace and switching which side your in the mood for helps even if its a conscious use or subconscious choice or not. Letting people into what you feel should'nt be a stigma. I her someone say " I don't want to let other know what Im feeling because its a burden for them and I don't wanna come across as a downer" I feel this is what being friends is for. Being there for someone and vice versa. You are not burdening them if that you are strengthening that bond and feeling vulnerable and opening yourself up to them. By doing this in my opening is true friendship. Even to people you don't know I feel who cares if you don't feel great in front of strangers don't pretend and be some one your not if you don't feel ok thats ok and letting people know that you don't feel ok is beautiful and brave at the same time.
The idea that this necklace is reversible allows the user to pick their favourite side to wear be it the light side of the sunset and beach or the dark side of the neon city. Both are vibrant in their own way but still depicts night and day which could reflect on a persons mood being happy or sad. But you could be potentially be happy looking at the night side which could help a person who initially feel a bit down to cheer them up with its uplifting vibe. This shows the power of the senses in particular this necklace embodies sight which unlocks memory and could potentially start a conversation. I want to make more necklaces like this perhaps in a smaller form might be cuter.
The senses play a big role in my work as I find that this is key to creating conversation through memory. Smell, touch, sight, sound all these things are soothing touch points to calming the mind, unlocking a memory, calming the mind through memory triggers and being open to sharing this experience with others. Perhaps others can experience this with you and it becomes a memory in itself.
My next piece I made a necklace that contains QR codes to scan that shows a playlist of songs from the 80's or 80's inspired music with synth. Something nostalgia is always good or something that creates that vibe unlocks this feel good hormone called serotonin that stimulates the brain again unlocking conversation or even if you feel low you could always scan these to listen and share other peoples playlists. Maybe you've got your necklace on, walking home and you feel anxious perhaps scanning the QR code will help you listen to some vibing music to go along with your vibing 80's vintage necklace. Its reminiscent to neon signs specifically reminiscent to bars and if your reading this and the pubs and bars are still shut due to Corona Virus then this type of music will hopefully bring you back to being in a bar or pub or at least a cool vintage one. Its also nice having the idea that someone made a playlist for you so by wearing or even purchasing the necklace having a playlist made by someone else is nice thought in itself as its a bit of their personal and sharing songs with others is also a nice experience.
Overall I loved doing this project, it technically took half a year to work on including the photography and the the jewellery as it had been playing on my mind for a long time and no doubt I will be making up a follow on collection to this as there is so many routes still to explore so I can imagine more items coming out of this inspiring topic.
My overall message in this post is that I hope people will learn to not be scared of what other people think in society and just be honest and true to themselves. Being bold like they were in the 80's being powerful like they were in the 80's and being brave to being able to pull all this off like they were in the 80's. You are beautiful and strong don't forget that. I hope my jewellery does make an impact on someone, I am still learning myself on how people interact with it and hi and I hope that it will be used and can help someones mental wellbeing. I hope this creates a convseration with someone. Perhaps your wearing something and someoen says " ilike your...." and just this little compliment could start off something new and beutiful who knows When we wear somethign its our choince , its our expresion to how we feel . Its our subcosciuse mood. Its our visual narrative and hen we wear something its a conversation starter, in anything we wear as we soemtimes struggle for those words because talking to people when first encountering or even if you have encountered them before its that awkward silence and you find yourself not being able to connect. its takes one compliment one sense to unlock a memory or perhaps you'd share something from your own expericne. Open up let people inn , show that your vulnerable because at the end of the day everyone is and at some point and its ok to be like this as the more vulnerable you feel the more opportunity more people will want to help and create that conversation and building up that trust to create strong bonds. Strong bonds with not only others but strong bonds with yourself, setting up boundaries and remembering that :
-You are Brave
- You are Bold
- You are Beautiful
Bellow is the trailer video for my jewellery which can be purchased from the shop if you'd like .
Follow me on social media if you have not already
my instagram is
Thanks for all the support and lets battle MentalHealth together
Kim Marie Tiong
-Founder of Kteodesigns