The Inspiration behind Autumn/Winter 2015: Blog Five-Scarification

Scarification: Traditional Power dressing

Scarification, predominantly found in central Africa, is notable for its beauty and extremity. Its visual likeness to the patterns and textures of crocodile leather is why it was the fifth source of inspiration for our Autumn/Winter 2014 collection. The scarification idea can be seen on our leather jackets where we have juxtaposed laser cutting and hand-stitched leather-covered buttons to create elaborate designs on the shoulders and back. 

Relief Scarification from the Democratic Republic of the Congo. To see where this image fits on our mood board wall go to blog post ONE.

Relief Scarification from the Democratic Republic of the Congo. To see where this image fits on our mood board wall go to blog post ONE.

Skin scarification is created by scratching and irritating scars over a period of time, or by inserting charcoal into the skin: the more traumatic the process, the more raised (and desirable) the scars that can be achieved.

As a painful and costly process, it echoes the headdresses, braids and crocodile skin symbols from our previous posts as a means to visually convey social status and to identify the wealthy and the warriors of the tribe at a glance.

he pictures of these tribes conceptualise a commitment to art, culture and style. We achieve it by wearing a beautifully designed jacket, they achieve it through their ornate scarring which replicates the armour-like qualities of the crocodile skin and ultimately serves to convey power, which  similar to the adorned hair of the Fulani women, expresses the same  commitment to one’s personal style and your unique sense of power-dressing.

The Art of Scarification

The textured beauty of the skin creates an elaborate and ornate statement. The organic patterns and shapes of each individual scar are created through handwork. Not one is exactly the same. There is an intimidating “scare factor” which shows outsiders the dedication to the painful process of scarification is the literal embodiment of suffering for fashion.

Interconnected Inspiration

The visuals, which have been placed together, create visual similes. The scarification and crocodile leather have similar textures and shapes. In both cases, we used only black and white photography, which focused our attention on the shapes and textures. 

We placed a Black & White image of a crocodile next to Scarification images that created visual links between the two images.

We placed a Black & White image of a crocodile next to Scarification images that created visual links between the two images.

Buttoning Up Scarification

In search of the fascinating relief motif that the scarification creates on the skin, we first experimented with a variety of cut shapes as well as to create texture by sewing pieces of leather onto samples before discovering the final, and most effective solution - simply to sew our leather covered buttons onto the leather to trace the desired 3D texture patterns over the shoulders and back.

The combination of recreated crocodile skin and button “scarification” finally culminated in a strong design idea that found its first expression in the serious power-dressing statement made by our laser cut leather Jackets. It will undoubtedly morph and resurface in a variety of guises in future ERRE designs.