Cut from forms that spell out “war” and “peace,” Holly McQuillan’s breezy twin dresses are as much a critique on society as they are high fashion. The zero-waste designer (and New Zealand native) created “War/Peace” for the 2010 International Fashion Art Biennale in Seoul, an event that commemorated the 60th anniversary of the Korean War. The results are both similar yet strikingly different, suggesting that war and peace are more alike than we think.

Holly McQuillan, New Zealand, zero waste, eco-fashion, sustainable fashion, green fashion, ethical fashion, sustainable style


The exhibition invited artists and designers from around the world to interpret several themes, one of which was coexistence. McQuillan chose to explore the way people dwelled not completely at war or in peace, but somewhere in the middle. “Seemingly ‘peaceful’ nations, such as New Zealand, can actively participate in war by renaming it ‘peacekeeping’ or ‘reconstruction,” she tells Ecouterre.

McQuillan chose to explore the way people existed not at war or peace, but somewhere in the middle.

Using equal-size cuts of digitally printed silk, McQuillan traced her seemingly diametrically opposed terms in Helvetica—a wry nod to the treaties, resolutions, and laws that are drafted in the ubiquitous font. “The final garments completely obscure any reference to the words,” she says. “The message becomes unreadable, and we are left with fashionable garments; consumable and ultimately forgettable.”

But the twin dresses are also emblematic of the designer’s internal battlefield. McQuillan adds: “[There] was a desire to push myself as a designer, to take big risks in terms of letting go of control over all aspects of a design, [and] seeing what serendipity could offer up.”

+ War/Peace

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