Navigating contemporary Orientalism and postcolonial identity through a deliberate centering of the Othered body, Azura Lovisa fleshes out an aesthetic and emotional presence, drawing inspiration from her own family archive of photographs and garments from 1950’s-60’s Malaysia. The collection is a testament to extracting our own meanings, locating our own contexts, and learning our own histories via salvaged memory. Diversity, displacement, and globalization are recognized as simultaneously destructive and creative forces that shape our collective cultural production.
A recurring touchstone is the issue of modernity posited as the antithesis of traditional culture. In pursuit of progress, traditional garments, through which we once projected our identities and cultural heritage, have been replaced by t-shirts and jeans, suits and shirts, the contemporary uniform from America to Asia. It symbolizes the association of the ethnic traditional with the antiquated, relegating folk dress to the margins of history, relics of a tribalistic past. Azura Lovisa’s goal is not to modernize the traditional, but rather to dismantle the value judgments that cause traditional ‘ethnic’ forms to be diametrically opposed to modernity in this way.
The collection features handwoven Thai silks sourced from markets which promote small-scale cottage industry weaving, supporting rural communities. By incorporating traditional textiles into her designs, Azura Lovisa hopes to help bridge the gap which isolates traditional craft from contemporary fashion and promote responsible sourcing practices.
Azura Lovisa’s strives to re-evaluate so-called ‘ethnic’ fashion, not as a tokenistic reference, but as a perspective shift, a legitimizing strategy, and a commitment to elevating underrepresented aesthetic modes. She aspires to richer, more inclusive narratives which attest to the fluidity of postcolonial identities.
Jewellery in collaboration with Tanaporn Wongsa
Photography by Ana Larruy