Fashion (Canada) - - Fashion -

Ben­jamin Shine doesn’t de­fine him­self as an artist, a sculp­tor or even a de­signer. “I don’t want to be boxed in by those la­bels,” he says. “I think of my­self as a ‘cre­ative ex­plorer.’” He has worked with the likes of Ric­cardo Tisci (when he was at Givenchy) and John Gal­liano (at Mai­son Margiela), but his most re­cent “ex­plo­ration” was mak­ing the tulle por­trait of Am­ber Wit­comb for

FASHION’s 40th-an­niver­sary cover. Shine, who is based in Lon­don, Eng­land, spent the day with us on set in New York and used images of Wit­comb to cre­ate his por­trait. “I strive to tran­scend the tech­nique and cap­ture a sense of the per­son,” he ex­plains. “Am­ber em­anates a quiet and time­less strength, and her fa­cial sil­hou­ette is cap­ti­vat­ing—it’s Gre­cian Pre-Raphaelite.”

Shine dis­cov­ered his tal­ent for paint­ing with fab­ric when he stud­ied fashion at Cen­tral Saint Martins in Lon­don. He began cre­at­ing sculp­tural pieces and art­works, but he didn’t use tulle un­til over a decade later. “I re­mem­ber notic­ing how the sun­light fell on this crum­pled ball of tulle in my stu­dio,” he re­calls. “I was in­trigued by the way it ex­posed the pleats, and I won­dered if I could ma­nip­u­late the fab­ric to cre­ate a rec­og­niz­able im­age.”

His tech­nique is time-con­sum­ing, and the medium is un­for­giv­ing. Once he moulds the fab­ric with his hands and bonds it to the can­vas with an iron, it can’t be un­done. The por­traits, which ap­pear to be float­ing, have a po­etic light­ness to them. “Work­ing with tulle is so dif­fer­ent from other me­dia I work with—like mar­ble, glass and steel,” he says. “It’s lit­er­ally kind of there and not there, which gives it a unique spir­i­tual and ethe­real qual­ity.”

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