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December 13, 2017
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The Bird&Seduction collar. Source: camillecortet.com.

Animals have a miraculous way of adapting to their environments. By shedding their fur, refining their skins and stripping their feathers, animals seduce prey, flaunt their "goods" and blend into their surroundings.

The incredible ability, that some birds have, to visually transform their body with volume and colours is my starting point...I translated this act of visual seduction in a series of garments...

While these transformations are quite obvious to human beings, we seldom observe the commonalities between the animal kingdom and ourselves. When adapting to our environment, we too shed or add layers depending on the local climate or the impression we wish to make on others. However, our own skin is not so malleable. Human beings learn early on - usually, after our first major sunburn - to take great care of our skin. We prefer to use a second skin as a means of altering our aesthetic appearance.  

Camille Cortet graduated from the Design Academy Eindhoven in 2009 and has been unconventional and provoking in her designs ever since - already gaining international attention. Cortet uses animal adaptations as a stimulus for creation. But, rather than isolating the differences, Cortet focuses on the parallels between the behavior and natural cycles of humans and animals. 

Cortet's innovative style is best depicted in her most recent work, the Transformations project. What began as a book of discovery into the transformative adaptations of animals, developed into a process of creation and design, which the designer made applicable to human culture.

Cortet's research was based on three primary categories: growth, seduction and disguises, through which, "We discover visual and sensorial changes," according to Cortet. Rather than emphasising the animal realm as the core theme of the designs, she prefers to delve further into an analysis of animal culture. In other words: this is not another leopard-print, faux-fur campaign.

The Transformations project includes a series of body-ornaments; a collection of adornments that attempt to synch animal behaviour to our own culture, creating leeway for new body gestures and new modes of body language to develop. By embracing the adornments, Cortet claims, "We translate the animal's beauty and finally merge with its behaviour, almost to the point of embodying it."

The Snake&Molt tights.
Photograph by Vincent Van Gurp.

Bird&Seduction is a wearable accessories collection featuring collars made of textile and coated paper. According to Cortet, "The incredible ability, that some birds have, to visually transform their body with volume and colours is my starting point...I translated this act of visual seduction in a series of garments...These garments are shirts made with different layers of textile and paper...The structures are suddenly showing colours and becoming voluminous just for a moment, a moment to impress."

Most remarkable perhaps, is how bold, yet delicate, the collar appears to be. They closely resemble the impression made by an exotic bird, leaving the viewer mesmerised. Although the collection initially appears slightly eerie when worn, it does score a point for innovation.

The Snake&Molting legwear collection is inspired by molt; the process animals go through (in exhaustive stages) to shed aged layers. Although humans experience the same cycle, it goes unnoticed. The tights embody the role of second skin to their wearer; created out of laser cut polyester, they are textured and manipulated by the shape of the body - responding to the wearer's movements.

However, the textile evolves through wear-and-tear. Once the tights reach the end of their "life-span," they break apart into mere fragments (much like the skin of a reptile). Extravagant, yet elegant, the tights are only strong enough to be worn only several times, so you might want to stick to your cotton-blend until Cortet develops a line in leather.

While Cortet's designs are not particularly functional, they are impressive. Through the lenses of art and design, they experiment with new technologies and innovative processes, all in aid of bridging the divide between animals and humans.

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