Meet Casmira Damon from Chicago. A 2017 Fashion grad from Savannah College of Art and Design. Casmira’s senior collection featured bold, jewel tone separates with Edwardian and Gothic influences.
Girl power icons like Lee Miller and Hedy Lamarr continually provide inspiration for Casmira’s work.
Lee Miller did it all. She modeled for Vogue, was a muse to Man Ray in Paris during the surrealist movement, and eventually became a photographer and war correspondent for Vogue, photographing the liberated concentration camp and its’ horrors.
In her Junior year, Casmira was heavily influenced by 1930s black and white photographs of Lee Miller, especially where she is wearing jumpsuits. Casmira liked the shadows in the images and that is what made her decide to create looks that went from light to dark. To do this she used different weights of cotton fabric next to sheer, light fabric. She also would layer sheer looks over black.
Damon liked the sepia tones of celluloid film that gradually got darker and more saturated. This made her think of how Miller was deeply haunted by the terrible atrocities she photographed at the end of World War II which led [Miller] to depression and alcohol abuse.
Hedy Lamarr is another female icon who had many lives. She ran away to Paris to escape her Nazi affiliated husband. Acting in movies there, she was discovered by MGM and became a Hollywood movie star in the 1930's. She was even an inventor of a “Secret Communication System” that helped the Allies in 1942 by minimizing the jamming of radio signals. Its technology later assisted in Wifi and Blue Tooth technology.
Lamarr’s influence in this technology is what gave Damon the idea to incorporate streaking and stripes –like a circuit board- into her prints. She uses hand drawn black with gold in the crop top, and also black and blue on the skirt. Additionally, she used solid green in the skirt with sheer green layered over it for a separates collection called "Hedy Lamarr: Retro Futuristic."
The bold colors of her senior collection pulled historical influences from the Edwardian Period with color ways from the suffragettes: green, violet, white.
In her process books and final pieces like the over-sized coat and violet halter top, she mixes beauty with creepy which lends influence to the Victorian Gothic period. This violet halter top has embroidered details of bleeding hearts. A beautiful flower that irritates the skin and poisonous if ingested.
The coat has hand-drawn bugs on it- bees, cicadas, beetles- and the flowers that are both beautiful and poison like fox glove. Fox glove's name derives from "folk glove" and can put you to sleep. It was used as a medicine throughout the centuries, to help the heart , but consuming too much can cause an array of side effects- dizziness, tremors, even death. Its' bells are traditionally violet and they grew all over the English countryside as a weed.
The voluminous size and structure of the coat is influenced by Japanese Kimonos. It is large and flowy with wide sleeves. "Weird sleeves are my thing," she says.The coat took the longest to create and was a collaboration with Kristen Heritage and Sami Fisher.
Damon also wanted to mix and match separates instead of designing dress after dress. This gave her more openness to create different sleeves on various crop tops, show off some skin with the exposed waist and then complete the look with a jump suit, wide-leg pant, or “hobble skirt.” This is exactly what it sounds like, so straight and stiff you have to hobble around in it; made popular in the 1910’s and described as a corset for your legs.
Damon likes to juxtapose voluminous and restrictive pieces and allows for plenty of room to mix it up- layering solids and sheers to create an interesting effect. Follow her on Instagram @casmira_damon and her Etsy Shop, Red Orchid Vintage. I can’t wait to see what she thinks of next!