Once More Into the Frey

Aluminium and steel scalemaille dress

Once More into the Frey, by Jenni Carlton

Beauty and a battle ready attitude converge with dazzling grace

Inspired by feminine splendour in all its guises from the iron-clad battle maiden to the femme fatale of the silver screen – the wiles, the wit, the wonder and the wow!

Materials - Scale and chainmaille construction from around 20,000 aluminium and steel parts

WOW Finalist 2011, Avant Garde Section

Design Inspiration

I was initially inspired by the material, armoured scales, which just seemed so perfectly suited to a slinky figure-hugging form that I knew I had to design something that clung to the body and moved with it in a way that was both sensual and evocative. With the shape and fit of the scales, it felt natural for the dress to have a fish-tail flare to the skirt, making the most of how I imagined the scalemaille to ‘chink’ and ‘swish’ as the model walked in it. The hard surface of the scales, reminiscent of amour, seemed to represent a shielded nature and spoke of a battle-ready attitude. Yet I wanted to capture the sleek sensuality of the womanly figure. It was here in the juxtaposition between the two aspects that my design fully manifested.

Freya was the perfect embodiment of these contrasting aspects and provided me with much inspiration for this dress fit for a battle maiden. In my research of Freya, Norse goddess of Love, Beauty and leader of the Valkyries, it occurred to me that actually all women seem to have many contrasting elements within themselves to call on when the time requires them and that nature fascinated me. Whether it’s the alluring temptress, the warrior maiden, or the wise women, I am often in awe of how such elements can reside under the same skin. These resting personas that lie within us ready to be called upon as we delve once more into the fray of our lives, are something to be treasured, respected and sometimes feared.

What I was most insistent about in the design process was that the garment hugged the body like a second skin, blending scales and body together but achieving it was another matter.

The challenge later, was how to create the image I had envisaged! I hadn’t seen a fitted chainmaille garment before and felt I was breaking new ground and would have to learn by a process of trial and error. Having never made chainmaille before it was a steep learning curve, with several challenges along the way – I certainly learnt the importance of a good set of pliers!

I love the way the dress accentuates the body shape and slinks with every movement. It is both sexy and awe-inspiring, I think Freya would enjoy wearing it.

Photo credit –  World of Wearable Art Show