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Dead Lotus Couture by Nange Magro

Dead Lotus Couture by Nange Magro

Everyone in life is gifted with at least one talent, however every now and again you come across those rare few whose talents seem endless. One such creature is Nange Magro. Not only is she effortlessly beautiful and the most charming of company; but she is a designer, a scientist, a musician and an artist. Nange’s heralds from an artistic family with an Italian painter mother and Japanese sculptor father, who set her on her own creative path with rich and diverse cultural references to draw from. Studying arts and fashion in Milan she then went on to do her Masters Degree in Digital Fashion course London College of Fashion in 2011, and continues to reside in London where she has recently launched her business Dead Lotus Couture.

The general driving concept behind her art and fashion is the creation of a parallel universe made of stories, dreams and emotions mixed with cultural context and technical processes. Combining interesting and artistic research around technology, materials and shapes to create a tangible world that mixes imagination and fantasies, through a clearly implemented methodology. Emotions and sensuality are fundamental elements as much as merging the past with sci-fi, exploring and pushing the limit between unreality and contemporary. It’s a fascinating combination of fact, fiction, the intellectual and the arts.

Sometimes life isn’t fair in the giving of gifts, but when the recipient of the bounty is as delightful as Nange you just can’t be annoyed. Added to this the fact that she really does work hard to use these talents fruitfully despite the limited number of hours in the day. I cheekily commandeered a couple of those hours to delve into the mind that creates truly futuristic fashion and latex alter-egos. Read on, and in her words “Abandon all hope, ye who enter here”…

If you could package up and sell a Nange, what would be the product’s description/usage instructions?

I would define a Nange more like a little creepy creature that works during the nights. Hidden in its little laboratory. At its door the is a sign that states: “Lasciate ogni speranza, o voi ch’entrate!”.

Tell me about Mechapolypse, your electronic couture

Mechapolypse is built around the development and exploration of this idea: creating an item that takes its reason for existing based on the concept of integration – something that makes this interaction between individual and technology so much more fascinating.

The basic idea of this project it is about creating a mind controlled dress: a garment that which shape and lights can be controlled by the use of concentration level.

Mechapolypse is a project that goes beyond a simple ‘wearing concept. One of the most important aims is to blur the boundaries that coexist between what is real and what is not.

The project tells a story full of emotions and sensuality. It merges the past with sci-fi, exploring and pushing the limit between unreality and contemporary.
I am trying to tell the story of a futuristic world, composed of strong images made up of both regular and sinuous structures. This post-apocalyptic world is populated by robots-like creatures, natural entities and composed of technology and mechanical elements.
It is a world made of a mix of textures, colours and materials. Everything remains natural in its most primordial aspect but at the same time there exists a technological future composed of metals iron and structures. Bones and organic elements are also mixed with cogs and tube and earth colours contend for space with metallic aggressive tones.

The garment is characterized by the use of a brain-computer interface to change the shapes of the dress. Utilizing an EEG device to control little technology systems, such as LED lights or servo motors that I used to give the garment its dynamic qualities. In this particular case in the corset, under the layer of sheer fabric there are three bundles of fibre optics which separately turn on, synchronized to the level of concentration.
More intense the level of concentration becomes, the amount of fibre optics that light up increase. The garment is composed and built by sections: hat, corset neck, corset, back piece (spine), first skirt and second printed latex skirt.

All electronics are hidden inside the spine placed on the back, once all data are decoded, (through the use of the lilypadarduino) when the maximum level of concentration is reached the dress lights completely up and the first skirt start moving revealing the latex one hidden underneath. I have always being interested in everything is digital, electronics, technology and fashion, as I do believe that is where the future of fashion is.
That is the reason why I always try to keep myself aware of the new technologies and more current research around the world.

I have gotten to know about the product that inspired my project (Mind Flex -a little ball is controlled with brain waves-) thanks to one of my best friend in Milan, Lorenzo, who is the one that taught me everything about arduino. I can consider him as my official IT support. :)
I thought using a technology like that would be a very interesting challenge if mixed with fashion.

I am also working on developing other ideas that can work on an artistic/performance and a commercial scale to continue this technology developing, and I am also thinking of possibly using this research and the experience achieved on a medical field as it would be awesome to have garments that people with particular handicaps could move or change just controlling their level of concentration.

What was it that made you want to marry fashion and technology?

Technology in itself always inspired and fascinated me. The idea of technological sculptures (garments) which move and are in synthesis with the person who is wearing them represents both my ideal future and passion. A garment should represent an extension of the body and brain, and not merely be a mask that aims to divide or mediate the connection between a person and the surrounding world. Clothing should be something more than skin. It should be something that we can choose to describe ourselves in our own personal way; controlling it means a lot more than we usually think.
Being conscious of our body and its surrounding environment is one of the most important issues today.

You also create a range of latex clothing. How would you say your latex designs differ from those already on the market?

Yes I do :), I have officially opened Dead Lotus Couture at the beginning of this year, finally!
One of the things I love the most about latex is its characteristic of becoming one with the body and at the same time capable to give to the designer the possibility of playing around with volumes/shapes to create amazing unnatural but beautiful silhouettes.
The concept of creating supernatural yet beautiful alter egos is part of Dead Lotus Couture’s philosophy. Every collection is inspired by tales, mythology or history.

Also manga/anime can be an influence as well. All these elements certainly help to create a magical feeling around the brand and its imagery.
Another one of main characteristic that differentiates Dead Lotus Couture is the design and development process.
After a first inspiration I usually start a general research by images and colours.

I prefer to go through pictures I’ve actually taken rather than find on google, when I say images I mean anything that is not clothing, it can be nature, animals… anything with shapes/compositions/colours that can help me to better define my inspiration.
After some sketches and shape/ colour palette studies I start to define the design.

This one is developed through a digital process (which is one of Dead Lotus Couture’s innovations) that allows me to control and manage any small shape and measure to achieve the best result. I also love to mix and experiment with new materials: most of the corsetry is made by inner tubing from bicycles :D
More projects integrating new materials and processes are coming soon… just keep an eye on the website and you will see ;)

Where do you draw your inspiration from?

Inspirations are a weird one, it is not very easy to define how I get them.
It can come from anywhere and in any moment, what I have noticed is that I usually have my best ideas when I’m falling asleep.
They usually arrive when I don’t really think about anything and I’m quite relaxed. A day spent in museums, galleries or also watching movies help a lot with inspiring me. I particularly love the natural history museum as my main source of ideas comes from nature. Bones, plant structures, mineral colours and textures are an amazing and unlimited source of inspiration. Gaudi’, one of my favourite architects, is one of the best examples to see how nature can inspire with amazing results, better than any other already processed human idea.

Describe your ideal customer, the kind of person who would wear your creations.

My ideal costumer is somebody that would leave me a blank canvas, so I can express any crazy idea and experimentation without having to keep thinking it has to be something simple and good for the market. What I have noticed usually people that like what I make are often those individuals that also appreciate art and would like something bit more than a usual club wear or anonymous dress. Especially if it’s about latex or electronic couture.

Could you tell me about the art and video animation for Dead Lotus Couture?

The concept of blending different creative disciplines is one of the most important elements in Dead Lotus couture’s soul.
I also find all movements from art history very fascinating and enlightening.
I try to incorporate mediums that I appreciate find interesting to better express and show Dead Lotus Couture’s different worlds and imagery. Using photo manipulations video art and animation or sometimes just simple ink and traditional drawings. Most of the works for this part of Dead Lotus Couture are in collaboration with my partner Mark Maxwell who luckily shares with me ideas, passions and creativity :)

And just in case you weren’t busy or talented enough, you are also in a band?
Ahuahu wow! Thank you! Blush blush. Yeap, the band is called Drilling Spree, and can be easily defined as a mix of hard rock and rock and roll. Music has always been one of my constant passions, and I always loved being involved in music projects, without my band the life wouldn’t be the same. Thanks to one of my best friends Jerome we started this project more or less one year ago, and already recorded and launch our first EP.

How do you find the time to fit everything in?
Well, it is a lot of self-discipline and priorities I guess XD in fact starting the company has had an enormous impact on my social life.

You have also exhibited at the Gadget Show and been featured on the BBC News and Mail Online websites. How did that come about, and are there any other exciting projects/appearances coming up?

Once I finished Mechapolypse (the mind controlled dress) I started to being published all over internet, I still remember how much panic I felt as it was a real surprise, I didn’t expect such a good public response. The American company who produces the EEG chip I’ve used, asked me to join them at the gadget shows in Birmingham and after that at the London one too. I could finally show my project to the public and let people try it in real life.
From there the interest grew, drawing attention from media such as bbc, yahoo, daily mail ect.. I’m starting few different projects always merging electronics and, I am developing some headset for a TV program later this year and another futuristic dress… which I can’t tell too much about yet XD

Is there an end goal to your endeavours? Where/how would you like to end up?

Mmm…I see life and career as a constant growth plus I don’t like planning life too much, I think sometimes is good to follow instinct and opportunities, so I don’t have a concrete goal to achieve. I guess the idea of being recognized for what I do and affirmed as a good artist is my constant aim.

Published in Alt Fashion Magazine