Personal Photography Series inspired by Elsa Schiaparelli

Studying Visual Culture turned my entire world upside down. First of all I discovered a profound passion for visual creation, while I considered myself to be a person of words. Second, I got familiar with theories that put my reason for being in a complete different perspective.

Photography Series by Juliette Sijnja

Part of the Visual Culture program was an assignment to explore your personal visual style by taking inspiration from an artist you truly admire. I chose for the surrealist fashion designer Elsa Schiaparelli. It was a text about Schiaparelli with a quote form fashion writer Bettina Ballard that captured my interest. Ballard stated that “by projecting witty illusions on the female surface, Schiaparelli transforms her women in objects of fascination, protecting them with an armour of amusing conversation-making smartness.”

The rather feminist text also linked the avant-garde way in which Schiaparelli adorned the women of her time to Judith Butler and her Queer Theory. Back in 2012 Gender Studies was not quite as much trending and I was still a bit of a blank page. You can imagine that I was shocked to discover that the nature of sexual acts and identities are constructed by society. So the reason I'm wearing heels, with shaved armpits in Fashion School, is just because society told me to?

Inspired by the feminist nature of Schiaparelli’s designs and the newly gained knowledge on Queer Theory, I intuitively started to play with the way the feminine is constructed in our society today. Just like Schiaparelli's creations, my images are stylistic and refined, but also place topics that are associated with the female gender and the socially constructed feminine in an alienating context.

photography | Juliette Sijnja