I sat down for a conversation with designer Xarea Lockhart. From Windsor, CT, Xarea is a fashion design major at Pratt Institute in Brooklyn with a focus on beading and embroidery.
Xarea, thank you for talking to me today. You have told me in the past that you have fallen in love with the slow process of embroidery. What do you feel is lost in a society that has become accustomed to instantaneous gratification?
In my opinion, society has lost the ability to be here, now.
In my opinion, society has lost the ability to be here, now. Numerous people are stuck on the next thing, or even stuck in the past. It’s actually extremely ironic because people want things to happen instantaneously, but are not present. Many, including myself, can't really sit and talk with someone without having the urge to pull out our phones and go on social media or shop online. With everything at our finger tips, it is so easy to get lost in ideas of what could be instead of attempting to appreciate what is directly in front of us. By doing these hand techniques, I am reclaiming my time, and following the schedule I choose to be on and not allow myself to get lost in the web.
How do you see this loss of appreciation of time translating into bigger problems for our culture?
True skill fall off the map and all for what? The gain of money in the American capitalist business cycle; this fast-paced cycle feeds back into fast fashion and fuels waste production.
Many great historical pieces of art like the Bayeux Tapestry honed in on skill. In more recent history, the people who did these things professionally have now been replaced by a large-scale manufacturing process, by machines. This is problematic because people lose their jobs, and true skill fall off the map and all for what? The gain of money in the American capitalist business cycle; this fast-paced cycle feeds back into fast fashion and fuels waste production. The fashion industry is one of the top contributors in pollution and excess waste. But that is entering into another whole long shocking conversation. At the end of the day, as things become easier to obtain, people forget about what once was.
Can you tell me a little bit about your embroidered underwear pieces? (Pictured above.)
I was driven to do the underwear specifically because of the way I saw women portrayed in the media and in various lingerie ads. I started questioning if we are in charge of what we find beautiful, and how women can take their bodies back from society. The underwear is just a physical manifestation of those concepts. I wanted to use a white, bikini cut brief to remove some of the major design ideology that comes to mind when you hear “lingerie.”
What specifically would you like to see changed in regards to the way women in lingerie are portrayed in media?
I started questioning if we are in charge of what we find beautiful, and how women can take their bodies back from society.
I often ask myself this question and there are honestly so many different answers. It’s difficult because at the end of the day the intent of lingerie is sex and seduction. Therefore, in order to sell and display lingerie, allure will immediately be utilized as a commercial tactic and the ads will immediately be sexualized. However, major strides for minimizing the amount of sexualization will occur once fashion gets over current beauty standards and starts using real women. Women who are not trained to be “sexy,” women who have stretch marks and scars, women who also deserve to be wanted and desired. Real women are women without photo editing, which releases a dangerous image to the public that “this woman is real and you can be her!” A lot of fashion is fantasy, because fantasy and sex sell, but that still does not make unrealistic standards okay. The location of the ad and how the photo is shot plays a role as well. Placing a woman in lingerie, on a bed, with feathers and flowers send a very obvious message. As many women know lingerie is an umbrella term and does not stay in the bounds of the bedroom! We can have women in many different settings, which can become elaborate or abstract, or on the contrary, very simple, and remove any suggestiveness and let the garments speak for themselves; let the wearer make that piece powerful on their own.
Speaking of letting garments stand on their own, how important is it to you that your pieces be wearable?
Fashion can be conceptual and still make sense and be accessible to numerous amounts of people.
Wearability is extremely important to me. Fashion can be conceptual and still make sense and be accessible to numerous amounts of people. I believe fashion is for everyone, even people who say they don't care or don't participate in fashion. They are doing so everyday just by getting up and making conscious choices about what they want to wear. Wearability is especially essential with lingerie because it goes hand in hand with health. Feminine health is extremely important and synthetic manmade materials that trap in heat can serve as a catalyst for infection. Underwear fabrics that contain no cotton whatsoever could equal bad news. I always challenge people to look at the fiber contents in their clothing and do research, understand what you're putting on your body and where it comes from. The underwear piece I created was not designed to be worn but rather create a statement that serve as a point of discussion. The breifs are 100% cotton and I used cotton embroidery threads to avoid any synthetic materials. I would definitely love to have an intimate apparel line in the future and could pull inspiration from this design, whether is be from the embroidery, fabric, or concept.
Can you tell me a bit about the way you decided to display this underwear?
The underwear is mounted onto a mirror that is set into a golden frame. This was actually a last-minute choice I made as I was thinking about how pieces are hung in museums, exhibitions, etc. For me, when I see my reflection in a glass case or frame, it becomes very personal because it is almost as if you are physically interacting with the art in a way that makes you see it in a new light. Therefore, I wanted to use the mirror as a very literal element of self-reflection: viewers see themselves in this piece, I see myself in this piece. I want to leave the viewer questioning their relationship to the piece: What can they themselves do?
And in your opinion, what can women do to reclaim this commercial space? How can we use our collective power to inform lingerie companies of what we would actually like to see in their ads/made for us?
Self-love is healing and powerful.
In my opinion, a large number of major companies that have been around for ages, will not change their strategies unless people collectively make them change. So as women we need to start living our truth by taking control of the things that matter to us. Keep your eyes open. If something seems suspicious or doesn't sit well then it isn't worth the support. Spread the word to others so more people are on board, aware and informed up. Work with others, build in your community. It's gotten to the point where if something needs to get done, let’s make it happen. Also, look good for yourself! Self-love is healing and powerful.
Of course we are on board with the idea of starting conversations that build the community. Thank you Xarea for talking to me today and please keep us updated on future ideas!