Alina Raetsep : An Allegory Of Artisanal Swag

Artis­an­al aka “made in a tra­di­tion­al or non-mech­an­ized way”. Alina Raet­sep of SIX Magazine divul­ges on the one top­ic she is truly pas­sion­ate about — tra­di­tion­al artis­an­al skill-ship. In China, mind you.工艺师制作的商品是以传统或非机械化的方式创造的。SIX 杂志主编 Alina Raet­sep 解释她对 (中国) 传统手工艺技能的热情。

Knowledge that survived generations, in some cases hundreds of years. That is a truly Raetsep-fascinating and -gripping idea. 代代相传的传统技艺,有些手工艺甚至已经流传了上百年. Raetsep 被传统手工艺的精髓其深深地吸引了.

SIX Magazine’s Alina Raet­sep is one doozy dudette who can be likened to the Secret Santa of sus­tain­able design. When Raet­sep star­ted SIX Magazine, at times referred to as the Eth­ic­al Fash­ion Bib­le, she was an eager puppy jump­ing for joy at the chance to cov­er all sorts of eth­ic­al fash­ion. Over the years, that boiled down to one top­ic she is truly pas­sion­ate about : Tra­di­tion­al artis­an­al skill­ship. Spot­ted across the vast and far-fetch­ing lands of the Middle King­dom, in this case. A gift passed on from par­ents to their chil­dren, from teach­ers to their pupils. Know­ledge that sur­vived gen­er­a­tions, in some cases hun­dreds of years. That is a truly fas­cin­at­ing and Raet­sep-grip­ping idea. It’s fair to say that nowhere in the world has the know­ledge of the past gen­er­a­tions been pre­served to the extent it has been in Asia, namely China and Japan. Hav­ing lived and researched the sub­ject in both places, when Tem­per asked her to jot some­thing down on this top­ic, we were shoot­ing straight down her lane.
当开始做 SIX 杂志 的时候,那时的 Raet­sep 对道德时尚(ethical fashion)怀有极大的兴趣,然而几年过去,她慢慢发现真正吸引她的其实只有一个主题 —  — 传统手工艺。传统手工艺是由父母传给孩子,师傅传给徒弟,代代相传的传统技艺,有些手工艺甚至已经流传了上百年。Raetsep 被传统手工艺的精髓其深深地吸引了。她认为在全世界范围内能把传统如此完整地保存下来的就只有亚洲,更具体地说,中国和日本。Raetsep 在中国和日本都生活过,并对当地的传统手工艺做了调查研究。当 Tem­per 的编辑 Els­beth van Par­idon 邀请 Raet­sep 写一些有关这方面的文章时,她是找对人了。

Thus far the Tem­per intro to this one-of-a-kind Esto­ni­an ace in the non-fast fash­ion field. Raet­sep, you sizz­ling Santa Baby, the floor is yours ! 我们总结我们的 Tem­per 介绍。 Raetsep,告诉我们所有关于你的激情!

When I first moved to China I felt as if I entered a par­al­lel real­ity, some­thing of an “upside down” of the world – so many things were the same and yet everything was so starkly dif­fer­ent. One of my all time favour­ite memor­ies is rid­ing my bike down Beijing’s hutong streets in the sum­mer­time. The incred­ible feel­ing I got passing ancient temples that stood the test of time des­pite everything that has happened to the world and to the coun­try – I always come back to this image in my head when I think about Beijing. That was the time I fell pas­sion­ately in love with the city, the food, the tra­di­tion­al Chinese court­yards – the lot. I was also priv­ileged to have got­ten to know some of the movers and shakers in the design and fash­ion world in China. As I spent time with them and got to see their work pro­cess I real­ized how import­ant their roots were to them. They may have stud­ied in Lon­don or New York, they may have lived else­where in the world, but China was in every fiber of their life and work. They dig deep in their ances­tral land’s rich his­tory and they tie the tra­di­tion­al ele­ments to the mod­ern China they live in, bring­ing spec­tac­u­lar work to life.
当我刚刚来到中国的时候,感觉自己好像走进了一个平行的现实,一个颠倒的世界:虽然跟我以前生活的环境有很多相同的地方,但却又是完全不同的。我最美好的记忆之一是在夏季的时候,骑着我的单车游览北京的胡同。当我看到那些经历了历史沧桑和社会变革却依然屹立在那里的古老的寺庙的时候,一种不可思议的崇敬之感油然而生。现在当我想起北京的时候,时常会回想起那段经历。就是在那个时候我深深地爱上了这座城市、北京小吃、传统四合院。在北京,很幸运我有机会认识在设计和时尚界很有影响力的一些人。当看到他们创作过程的时候,我意识到传统对于他们来说是多么的重要。他们有些在伦敦和纽约学习过,有些在世界的其他国家也生活过,但是中国对他们的影响会渗透到工作和生活的每个细节里。他们深深地挖掘祖先留下的丰富历史,并把传统元素与现代生活结合起来,把新颖独特的创作带到生活当中。

The silhouettes were haunting and the execution of the designs most impeccable. They made Wang one of my all time favorites. 具有视觉冲击力的外形设计,无可挑剔的制作。正是这个系列使王成了我最喜欢的设计师之一。

One of such people I got to know was Vega Zaishi Wang. A young Lon­don Col­lege of Fash­ion and Cent­ral Saint Mar­tins Col­lege of Art & Design-edu­cated design­er, Wang entered the fash­ion scene with a bang with her “Alpha Lyrae” col­lec­tion. This eight-piece lineup har­nessed elec­tro­lu­min­es­cent tech­no­logy to “evoke the beau­ty of cos­mos”. To cre­ate her lumin­ous dresses, Wang teamed up with the lads from Top Right Opto­elec­tron­ics, print­ing the silk with images of vari­ous con­stel­la­tions and neb­u­las and then using elec­tro­lu­min­es­cent paper to back the silk.
王在实(Vega Wang)就是我认识的设计师当中的一位,毕业于伦敦艺术大学时装学院和伦敦圣马丁艺术与设计学院,王凭借她的“Alpha Lyrae”系列一举打进了时尚界。八件运用电致发光技术做成的服装“唤起了宇宙之美”。为了制作可发光的裙子,王与 Top Right Opto­elec­tron­ics 的技术人员联手,将各种星座星云的图案印到了丝绸上,再用电致发光纸将丝绸托起来。

[A glimpse of enlight­en­ment — cour­tesy of The Cre­at­ors Pro­ject You­Tube Chan­nel]

Hanging out with Wang on the rooftop of her stu­dio in the sum­mer of 2013, sip­ping cof­fee and talk­ing about her quirky tat­toos, I remem­ber won­der­ing aloud about her most strik­ing col­lec­tion at the time, “the Nomads”. The sil­hou­ettes were haunt­ing, and the exe­cu­tion of the designs most impec­cable. This was the col­lec­tion that forever made Wang one of my all time favor­ite design­ers. Wang’s answer to get­ting the best res­ults : Itali­an fab­rics and loc­al Beijing seam­stresses.

2013 年的夏天,我和王一起在她工作室的屋顶上闲聊,一边喝着咖啡,一边谈论着她那古怪的纹身,并谈起她当时最引人注目的 Nomads 系列。具有视觉冲击力的外形设计,无可挑剔的制作。正是这个系列使王成了我最喜欢的设计师之一。当我问到如何能呈现最好的设计效果时,王回答到:意大利的面料加上北京本地的裁缝。

Her entire oper­a­tion at the time was housed in a ren­ov­ated tra­di­tion­al Chinese court­yard house man­aged by three sis­ters, and she took me down­stairs to the work­shop where I watched the incred­ible pieces come to life. Embroid­ery, stitch­ing, everything down to zips and but­tons made with such pre­ci­sion, such skill. It was all in the hands of the women who were recre­at­ing ele­ments of their great-great-great-grand­moth­ers work.

Vega 当时全部的生产加工都是在一座改造的传统四合院中,由她的三个姐妹打理,她带我到楼下的作坊,在那里我亲眼目睹了一片片的布料是如何奇迹般地变成成衣的过程。从绣花、拼接、到装拉链和钉钮扣,一切都是那么地精准,这些都是对祖辈传统工艺的传承和再创作。

My time with Vega got me think­ing about tra­di­tion­al Chinese cloth­ing mak­ing and I star­ted to look around for design­ers who were incor­por­at­ing such tra­di­tions into their work on a lar­ger scale. Enter Angel Chang of Atelier ANGEL CHANG, a rising star of innov­at­ive fash­ion design with the Ecco Domani Fash­ion Found­a­tion Award and Carti­er Women’s Ini­ti­at­ive Award under her belt for such advance­ments like self-heat­ing lin­ings and col­or-chan­ging prints. An urb­an New York­er, Chang had little to do with tra­di­tion­al Chinese craft until she dis­covered that the hand-woven fab­rics of the Chinese Miao and Dong minor­it­ies were on the verge of dis­ap­pear­ing, and rushed to pre­serve the craft through her col­lec­tions.

在结识 Vega 的这段时间让我开始思考中国的传统制衣,于是我开始大范围地寻找能把传统工艺结合到设计当中的设计师。Angel Chang,一颗设计界的新星,以自加热里衬和可变颜色的印花设计一举夺得 Ecco Domani Fash­ion Found­a­tion Award 和 Carti­er Women’s Ini­ti­at­ive Award 两项时尚界设计奖项。生在纽约的 Angel Chang 以前对中国传统工艺知道的并不是很多,直到她发现苗族和侗族的传统手工织布并得知这种工艺即将失传时,她毅然决定以结合这种工艺到自己的成衣系列的方式,来保存并发扬这项手工艺.

Arriv­ing in China’s Guizhou province in 2009, Chang began to work closely with the weavers and embroider­ers of sev­er­al loc­al moun­tain vil­lages, pro­du­cing entirely hand-woven and hand-embroidered tra­di­tion­al fab­rics. The entire pro­cess, from cot­ton plant­ing to fab­ric dying, used no elec­tri­city and no arti­fi­cial ele­ments – the fab­ric was dyed using nat­ive wild plants. “For my col­lec­tions, I use nat­ur­al plant dyes for­aged from the sur­round­ing moun­tain forests or grown on a farm land. These plants must be picked fresh and used imme­di­ately. This means that we can only col­lect and pro­cess them when they are avail­able in nature – a pale yel­low flower in May, black tree bark in August. My pro­duc­tion cal­en­dar is con­sequently sched­uled around those sea­son­al lim­it­a­tions”.

2009 年 Chang 来到中国贵州省,与当地山村里的织工和绣工一起,开始制作全手工织绣布料。整个过程,从棉花种植到织物染色,没有用到任何电力,也没有添加任何人工染料,所有的布料全部都是采用当地的野生植物进行染色。“我的系列使用的是天然植物染料,这些植物生长在周围的山里或农场里。在使用时,必须立即采摘,然后马上使用。这就意味着,特定的染料只有在特定的时期才能获得,例如,淡黄色的小花是在五月,黑色树皮是在八月。因此,我的生产制作周期也是按照季节安排的”。

Over the fol­low­ing four years, Chang learned to live among the loc­al com­munit­ies fol­low­ing the cycles of nature and being entirely off-the-grid, pro­du­cing an almost zero car­bon foot­print col­lec­tion. A tri­umph for tra­di­tion­al craft pre­ser­va­tion efforts, Chang suc­cess­fully col­lab­or­ates with loc­al crafts­men on pro­du­cing the one-of-a-kind fab­rics that nor­mally don’t make it out of a fam­ily house­hold. Tra­di­tion­ally, such tex­tiles and embroid­ery are used to pre­serve some of the his­tory of the minor­it­ies who nev­er used a writ­ten lan­guage to doc­u­ment their story. Each piece takes up to two years to com­plete and is worn for an aver­age of 20 years before being handed down to chil­dren and grand­chil­dren as heir­looms.

在接下来的四年里,Chang 远离城市喧嚣来到乡村,跟着当地人学着如何遵循自然时节生产几乎零碳足迹的成衣系列。在 Chang 的努力下,当地的传统工艺得到了保存和传承,她成功地与当地的工匠合作,制作出独一无二的织物。当地的少数民族不是通过书写而是通过手工制作的绣花织物来记录保存他们的历史的。根据当地的传统,这种织物和绣花其实是不外传的。每一件作品要花两年左右的时间来完成,人们会小心爱护地穿着这些服装长达 20 年,然后才会传给下一代。

[A 2015 look, dir­ec­ted by Jona­thon Lim, at Chang and her quest for hand­woven sus­tain­ab­il­ity — cour­tesy of the Atelier Chang You­Tube Chan­nel]

Chang trav­elled from vil­lage to vil­lage look­ing for those who still had the know­ledge of such tra­di­tion­al embroid­ery. Today, an embroid­er of that kind takes up to one month to com­plete one piece for Chang’s atelier. “Each col­lec­tion focuses on one type of embroid­ery or fab­ric-weav­ing tech­nique that inspires me. Because each tech­nique is unique to each vil­lage, I travel into that spe­cific vil­lage, work dir­ectly with the loc­als, and learn the folk­lore and stor­ies behind their meth­ods.”

Chang 挨村挨户地寻找那些掌握这种传统绣花工艺的人。如今,在 Chang 的工作室里,制作这样一件绣花作品往往需要一个月的时间才能完成。“我的每一个系列都会着重于特定一种给予我灵感的绣花或织布工艺。对每一个村子来说他们都有自己独特的工艺,我从一个村子辗转到另一个村子,跟当地的工匠一起工作,向他们学习手艺,听他们讲这些民俗背后的故事。

Creating the Urban Tribe book was a journey that helped preserve the traditional craft and promote it to their urban customers. 对于我们城市山民来说,这本书的出版是为了帮助传承传统手工艺,将传统工艺介绍给更多的城市买家,同时鼓励手艺人将传统制衣的工艺传承下去.

Another fant­ast­ic com­pany who has a hand in pre­ser­va­tion of tra­di­tion­al Chinese cloth­ing mak­ing tech­niques is the Shang­hai-based Urb­an Tribe. The founders describe them­selves as a “fusion of clothes, jew­elry, ceram­ics and tea”. Focus­ing on tra­di­tion­al mater­i­als and pro­duc­tion, Urb­an Tribe cre­ates time­less designs rooted in Chinese tra­di­tion­al design and cul­ture while their main cus­tom­er base are young urb­an Chinese. In 2013, Urb­an Tribe pub­lished the book titled “Nee­dle­work Inter­view : With Miao Mother and Daugh­ter”. Call­ing it their biggest achieve­ment to date, the brand’s founders trav­elled to sev­er­al Miao vil­lages in the Guizhou region and asked mother-daugh­ter teams to col­lab­or­ate on pro­du­cing a tra­di­tion­al piece of cloth­ing for the book. “Urb­an Tribe provided them with the mater­i­als and covered pro­duc­tion costs…We con­duc­ted field inter­views and filmed the entire pro­cess, made pho­to albums for char­ity and donated all the money raised to the mother-daugh­ter teams”.

另一个参与保存中国传统服装制作工艺的品牌是 上海的城市山民(Urban Tribe)。 用创始人的话说,城市山民是“一家集衣、陶、茶、饰的综合店铺”。注重传统材料的使用和制作,根植于中国传统文化,城市山民的永久性设计受到了很多中国都市青年的青睐。在 2013 年,城市山民出版了一本名为《女红在不在(传承女红:苗家母女共制苗衣活动)》的图书。创始人称此书为城市山民迄今为止所取得的最大成就,城市山民的创始人拜访了贵州省的几个苗族村庄,并邀请当地的母女组成团队共同制作苗族传统服装。“城市山民为她们提供材料并支付制作成本。我们实地采访和录制了整个制作过程,同时还制作了相册,通过举办慈善活动将获得的捐款全部捐赠给苗家母女们”。

 

Alina Raetsep: An Allegory Of Artisanal Swag
Alina Raet­sep : An Allegory Of Artis­an­al Swag
Urb­an Tribe New Arrival : Silk Dress 2017.

 

For the Tribe, the mak­ing of the book was the jour­ney that helped to pre­serve the tra­di­tion­al craft, pro­mote it to their urb­an cus­tom­ers and encour­age those with the know­ledge of mak­ing such gar­ments to pass the skill on to the next gen­er­a­tion. “Urb­an Tribe people come from the accu­mu­lated over thou­sands of years wis­dom of nature and beau­ty. We neither should for­get not dare to for­get. With­in the products of Urb­an Tribe we hope to integ­rate such kind of wis­dom and beau­ty.”
对于我们城市山民来说,这本书的出版是为了帮助传承传统手工艺,将传统工艺介绍给更多的城市买家,同时鼓励手艺人将传统制衣的工艺传承下去。“山民们在千万年来于自然中积累的智慧与美,在当下,我们不应也不敢遗忘。在城市山民的产品中,我们希望能融入这样的智慧与美,同时也寄此期望山民精神能回归城市”。

 

We end this pas­sion­ate Raet­sep dis­clos­ure with a quote from Chang — in ref­er­ence to the mad artis­an­al skills she found in Guizhou Province :

“It doesn’t mat­ter if they spend two weeks on a sleeve or two years on a jack­et. These clothes will be worn for a life­time.”

That’s a truly pas­sion­ate work of love, for life.

为了结束这篇热烈的披露,我们而引用 Chang – 在贵州省出行时 – 的话:“如果他们花两个星期的时间或在两三年的时间里穿上一件夹克,这些衣服一生都会磨损,时间并不重要。” 这是为了生命真正热爱的工作。

 

 

 

 

 

 

Featured Image : Copyright @Vega Zaishi Wang, 2017.
Written by SIX Magazine’s Alina Raetsep for Temper Magazine.
Edited by Elsbeth van Paridon.
Chinese translation by Li “Lily” Dan of Kitayama Studio.
Copyright @Temper Magazine 2017 All rights reserved

 

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