"Beauty is Pain."

This adage was literally true in Victorian times when vivid shades of green became deadly popular. The Victorian era witnessed the invention of new Argand oil gas lamps and later in 1879, electricity.  Deep hues of color, illuminated by a jaunt of voluminous chandelier and lamp light, were even more brilliant when seen at night.

Modeled by Cassidy Brown; dress vintage, spring 2017

Modeled by Cassidy Brown; dress vintage, spring 2017

Green dye was all the rage in women’s wreathed headpieces, gloves and dresses. Men wore green in their waistcoats and cravats. In homes of every class, green pigments were used in wallpaper and paint. While it was well-known that arsenic was the green coloring's main component, people commonly believed they would remain unharmed as long as they didn’t "lick the wallpaper."

Samples of Victorian wallpaper, poison to the touch. More about this topic can be found in the 2016 book, Bitten by Witch Fever: Wallpaper & Arsenic in the Nineteenth-Century Home.

Samples of Victorian wallpaper, poison to the touch. More about this topic can be found in the 2016 book, Bitten by Witch Fever: Wallpaper & Arsenic in the Nineteenth-Century Home.

The arsenic in emerald green dresses acted as an irritant and caused sores all over the bodies of the rich elite. They wore the dresses anyway. In 1862, the cartoonist John Leech depicted, “The Arsenic Waltz,” in which a man and woman’s skeletons dance in evening dress, poking fun at people who choose fashion over health.

Noxious arsenic powder used to dye artificial flowers had grim consequences for the factory employees who worked with it every day. The arsenic dust would spread to their fingernails, in their mouths and they would carry it home. Scratching a nose or face would cause skin to peel around the nostrils and lips. When exposure was too long, hands and the whites of eyes would turn green. Some workers contracted gangrene; others developed syphilis-like symptoms and died.

Yet, customers still craved the popular color. As nature vanished from everyday life in the industrialized cities in America and Europe, artificial flowers were widely worn in hair despite their killer attributes.

artificial head pieces laced with arsenic powder and a popular fashion trend.

artificial head pieces laced with arsenic powder and a popular fashion trend.

In the 1860’s, the arsenic was often mixed with copper for deeper tones of fabric dye, heightening both the intensity and the danger of the tint. With this toxic formula, the materials became more flammable and more poisonous. Over the long term, apparel constructed from this fabric actually drove its occupant mad.

I photographed these fashion images with the deadly dye in mind. Green is one of my favorite colors and is often celebrated as a symbol of nature and life. Here it brings a beautiful death to the wearer.

Corsage dress designed by SCAD Fashion Junior, Paulina Ramirez; modeled by Lexi Bright spring 2017

Corsage dress designed by SCAD Fashion Junior, Paulina Ramirez; modeled by Lexi Bright spring 2017

Meet Hyunjin Han: Industrial Design Major, Jewelry Minor

JAGY is the name of this chic, ingenious planter that fits together like a puzzle. Although the name sounds exotic, it simply means "planter" in Korean. Graduating this spring, JAGY's designer Hyunjin is originally from Seoul. She is an Industrial Design major who decided to minor in jewelry after a memorable visit to the garden maze at the Getty Museum in L.A.  "I fell in love with the geometric form, like how the rows are arranged and intertwined."

The metal bracelet pictured above, constructed with hinge tubing and riveted tips, is an example of Hyunjin's maze-inspired design. A lot of sanding was required to achieve its mirror-smooth finish. "My fingerprints were almost gone from doing so much sanding," she says. 

Hyunjin's work is marked by extensive experimentation and variety. This oversized pendant is reminiscent of the large gold and silver pendants rappers sported in the early 1990's but with a feminine flair.

Model: Lexi Bright

Model: Lexi Bright

For another project, Hyunjin switched gears and created organic pieces using a wax casting process. "I like working with natural materials because there is a lot of variation in texture and shape." 

For these brooches, Hyunjin emulated mold and moss. She created forms by shaping the material with her hands, hand-pounding metal and using a hydraulics machine to meld pieces together. She added purple stones and dyed moss to complete the looks. 

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Hyunjin also created a series of silver and gold rings modeled after mold seen through a microscope. 

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Here are some of her designs. The rings are similar but feature a lot of variety in patterns.

Hyunjin graduates from SCAD this spring and is planning to stay in the U.S. working as an Industrial Designer in the watch or toy industry. She also plans to design her own line of jewelry.

I can't wait to see what she comes up with next! See more of her work at behance.net/hyunjinhan.