The Barest Threads

March 28, 2020 / Anh Vu

Golden orange, cranberry red, deep blue, cold grey. Voluptuous circles coinciding long rectangles running into awkward triangles littering a canvas. No, this isn’t a five-year old’s arts and crafts project. It can’t be. This hangs in a museum. Moving to the piece hanging next to it, all hope is lost. It’s a black square painted on white canvas. Seeing, not quite believing.

How can something so simple be art? How can something so simple be worthy of appreciation? Contrary to popular belief, the answer to that is not a resounding “nepotism.” Breathe in. Hold that breath. Keep holding.

This is Suprematism. Created by a man, just as tired by the world in 1913, as we are by it today. Kazimir Malevich was looking beyond reason and logic. Testing how far he could deconstruct art yet still have it be art. Trying to detach objects, forms from a painting. And in doing so he started a revolution. His ideas were watered and cared for by other creatives until they blossomed into modern art. Art, film, music and fashion were never to be the same again. A certain tour de force by the name of Coco Chanel fabulously reinvented Suprematism’s geometrical designs into iconic pieces like the babushka headscarves and striped blue-and-white undershirts. Rei Kawakubo of Comme de Garçons whimsically channeled Malevich’s spirit into statements like the color-blocked skirt.

Designers continue to embrace Suprematism in subtle ways, and we continue to be inexplicably drawn to it. Something so mundane just can’t be fashion. Actually, it can be. And just to bask in everyone’s incredulity, it might just be the most superior form of fashion. Offering a new look into how we can feel the happiest while being the barest.

We tend to feel. Most of the time too much and when it counts, not enough, but we feel. Somehow happiness is elusive, though. Just beyond our reach like a bubble we can never hold, lest it pop and cover our hands with soap. We spend lifetimes trying to blow the roundest, largest bubble but sometimes our breath runs short. There’s not enough soap water on the stick. The gust of wind gets its way. Left with sleek disappointment, steeling ourselves to never even try, we abandon that dream. Malevich, Coco Chanel and Rei Kawakubo would tell us to stop trying to blow the most perfect bubble and to instead become the bubble.

Admitting what makes us blissful is hard because it forces us to attach the objects or people to our emotions. That’s why Suprematist fashion is the answer to our woes. Fashion is a personal choice. It’s our vulnerable, wide-eyed, idealistic child ready to change the world. Watching that child grow into a frustrated adult, makes us doubt our choices. Suprematism asks that adult what it meant to be a child. It strips our fashion of glamor and illusion until all that’s left is our bodies held by color, light, shadow and line. And when we are at our most genuine, Suprematism allows us to hold fashion not as a shield but as a veil, offering a glimpse of the true nature of our joy.

“Somehow happiness is elusive, though. Just beyond our reach like a bubble we can never hold, lest it pop and cover our hands with soap.”

Suprematist fashion is the abyss we look into to see our most primitive selves, absent of any distraction. There is no excess of fabric or overuse of decoration that distorts or conceals us. Instead, we see the truth of who we are, something that we may have lost. Having the ability to find that truth and embrace it, through something as external as fashion is a powerful thing. It allows us to reconnect with the happiness that was slowly scratched away by the world over time. Suprematism through fashion brings us joy beyond all else because it makes us recognize the source of our happiness and embrace it. And by embracing bliss, we can readily feel it more often. ■


By: Shreya Rajhans

Layout: Sydney Bui 

View the full spread as it appeared in Issue No. 13 here.
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