The Programme Director for both of the Fashion programmes at Edinburgh College of Art (ECA) is displaying work as part of an exhibition at the International Centre for Lace and Fashion in Calais. Mal Burkinshaw’s "Silhouettes" installation consists of a series of see-through jackets which blend the body shapes of the Renaissance with the shape of the classic modern jacket. The work is the result of a close collaboration between Mal and the lace manufacturer Sophie Hallette.
He is exhibiting alongside Teresa Whitfield, who is displaying a series of hyperrealist drawings of some Calais-Caudry lace undergarments from the museum’s collections.
Mal's current research explores and challenges the relationship between fashion design and body image. He contributes to the “Beauty by Design” research project at ECA, which capitalises on the research interests and strengths of a number of experts at the College, including Jill Burke in History of Art, whose work on the Italian Renaissance nude is part-funded by a Philip Leverhulme Prize.
“Silhouettes” was previously presented at the "Beauty by Design : Fashioning the Renaissance" exhibition at the Scottish National Portrait Gallery in Edinburgh in 2014-2015. The work considers the dichotomy that exists between the silhouettes of today's fashion and those of fashion in the past. Using transparency and lace, these jackets do not conform to standard measurements and are neutral in terms of gender, thereby inviting the viewer to question their perception of beauty linked to body size.
The series calls attention to centuries of highly-skilled labour working to produce this delicate material, indicative of wealth, prestige and standing during the Renaissance. The jackets reinstate the practice of wearing black lace which, although commonplace, is only rarely depicted in the portraits of the period.
The International Centre for Lace and Fashion aims to highlight the techniques behind lacemaking, the uses to which lace has been put, and its place in the world today in such fields as fashion, design, and applied arts.
The exhibition runs from 6 September 2016 – 26 February 2017