We are thrilled to announce that our World of WearableArt (WOW) latex garment for 2023, Digital Ascension of Kitsune, has won three awards: International Design Award: Overall, International Design Award: Americas, and Winner of the Gold Section. We can’t thank all the wonderful people at the WORLD OF WEARABLEART for their love and support. Ever since we began competing in WOW, it has surely felt like a family of such talented people supporting a global community so positively.
Would it be redundant to say…WOW!?
Our Kitsune garment is a digital-era retelling of the classic “ascension” folk tale. After living for fifty years, the common fox begins to cultivate mischievous powers, even shapeshifting into a beautiful woman. After a thousand years, having grown all nine tails, it turns gold and ascends to heaven. Knowing that files uploaded to the digital cloud can carry more than just ones and zeros, what if everyone’s interaction with the internet captured a bit of their beliefs, a trace of their culture, and a part of their soul? The “cloud” becomes a digital heaven, a compendium of humanity.
Having spent several years living in rural Hida Takayama, Japan, I learned many local legends. Snow Winters, the supremely talented designer I have worked with before on WOW outfits and who I partnered again with to create this garment, comes from a Vietnamese heritage that inspired her to explore the spiritual beliefs of her mother’s culture. We were fascinated that the fox spirit folk tale is ubiquitous across Japan, Vietnam, China, and Korea. Together, Snow and I questioned the possibility that our collective memory, history, and stories only remain in the far future as digital uploads in the cloud. Our material choices of latex and acrylic pushed the bounds of traditional fabrics with inflatable air chambers and bubbles that seemed to float over the body. The reinterpretation of the ancient Kitsune folk tale takes advantage of these materials and transforms the nine-tailed fox into a futuristic creature. Symbology was created for Kitsune, Snow, and Dawn, and were intermingled on the floating bubbles. To create the illusion of bubbles, gold acrylic was laser cut and thermoformed into hexagonal domes and then linked into small sections. Steel standoffs are mounted under key mounting bubbles and then bonded to the latex. The aesthetic of origami and traditional papercraft was referenced when developing the faceted design of the mask, tail tips, and claws.
The Kitsune folk tale of the one-thousand-year-old fox ascending to heaven is an allegory of the physical change of humans. Like the Kitsune, the collective beliefs of humanity survive beyond death and the passage of time. Humans have changed tremendously in just a thousand years. What will we be in another thousand years? Will we become just another folk tale?
We are thrilled to have made another lasting impression on WOW and won their praise in this particular way.
Thank you all.