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INSECTS AND THEIR CULTURAL SIGNIFICANCE IN FASHION

Written By: Elaine C Yang


ENTM206
JUNE 2014





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INTRODUCTION
Insects are the most successful of all organisms and dominate all factors of the human
existence. They have a direct impact on human life as competitors for food, fiber, and other
natural resources. While their presence may seem to be a nuisance, these terrestrials outnumber
the human race by a ratio of 312 to 1. In most cases the coexistence of insects with the human
race tend to bring destruction and annoyance as they contaminate products, damage crops,
demolish structures, and invade human homes. Despite all of the negative aspects that are
associated with insects their presence have struck a positive influence within the cultural and social
realms of literature, film, music, and art. While the majority of society sees insects as pests, artists
have looked to these critters for inspiration towards the development of many fine pieces of work.
One industry of artists that have incorporated insects into their line of works is the fashion
industry.

SILK ROAD
Parisian Couture, otherwise known as Haute Couture is the highest level of womens fashion.
The top couturiers seek out only the finest of fabrics, amongst the collections presented by silk
manufacturers. Through this process of selection, the fashion industry insures that silk will be used
in the best applicable way towards the creation of luxury garments. Silk has been widely prized
throughout history and can be geographically traced back to the continent of Asia. Wild
populations of silkworms (Bombyx mori) had once dwelled within the regions of Asia before
becoming locally domesticated. China, Japan, Italy, France and Spain are the main producers of
silkworm. As each larva spins its cocoon, it produces a continuous fiber of silk that is about 0.075
mm (3/1000 inch) thick and 900 to 1500 m (3000-5000 ft) in length (Meyer, 2007). Silk has


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contributed to the worldwide prestige of the fashion industry, compromising much of the ready-to-
wear sectors categorized as luxe. Silk has been highly appraised for its material quality. Silk is the
strongest of all natural fibers and has a resilience of elasticity; it is lightweight, wrinkle resistant, and
the delicacy of the fabric provides comfort against the skin. Many fashion pieces created from silk
include, lingerie, lace, passementeries, tulles, bridal veils, scarves, and ties.

LONDON FASHION WEEK 2012
Being the most varied of all organisms insects come in all shapes,
colors, and sizes. With around 10-20 million species of insects,
their aesthetic variation hosts a great array of design concepts that
have made its way across a wide
spectrum of fashionable pieces.
London Fashion Week 2012
featured a most striking series of
fashion that was exhibited by
Fyodor Golan. Fashion designers,
Golan Frydman and Latviam
Fydor Podgomy coined their
collection from the inspiration of Russian peasants, tzars and
insects. The designers said they found inspiration in insects that
changed themselves for protection. Utilizing biology and


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research from insects from beetles to butterflies, microscopic detail is explored and dissected.
Focusing on their construction and innate qualities, these are evolved into the pattern process to
create fragility and strength reflecting the creature itself in the aesthetic (dailymail.co.uk, 2012).

MCQUEEN COLLECTION 2013
The insect trend did not cease at the London Fashion Week 2012, but carried forth into the
spring/summer 2013 collection of one of the industrys highly renowned designers, Alexander
McQueen. The collection
exaggerates the female hip silhouette
in tribute to the wasp. Rich with
honeycomb pencil skirts and
cropped panel trousers, the
collection is more than attention
getting with original, matching
accessories. The cuff bracelets and ornamental
chokers of the collection accentuate the
honeycomb-designed mid-shoe heels and stunning
hats (styleheve.com, 2013).








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Keeping with the line of consistency, Alexander McQueen presented an exclusive collaboration
with English artist and entrepreneur Damien Hirst in celebration of the 10th anniversary of the
signature skull scarf. The collection featured 30
unique designs. The partnership seamlessly plays on
the shared aesthetic vision of Hirst and McQueen, in
which an interest in symmetrical design is
combined with strong references to the natural
world. Each artwork is adapted from Hirsts
Entomology series; butterflies, bugs, spiders and
other insects have been worked into each scarf
design to form kaleidoscopic geometric shapes,
laid out to create the signature McQueen skull motif (exandermcqueen.com, 2013).



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CONCLUSION
With the constant search for beauty and incorporation of Mother Nature, the emergence
of insect influence on fashion will continue to be on trend. As an aspiring individual with an
interest for fashion, journalism, art, and photography entomology has instilled upon me a greater
appreciation for the aesthetics of nature. Ive developed a greater understanding of insects, their
functions in society, and their impact on the human race. Their presence has now become more
evident to me, whereas they use to be overlooked. In the world of fashion they spark innovation
and creation. Im truly amazed by how much of an impact insects have had in the fashion industry
within these few years. Perhaps a lesson to be taken away from this is that a creative mind can turn
anything in its simplest form into something marvelous.
Like a caterpillar that waits its day in becoming a beautiful butterfly, great things are crafted
through time. Beauty is in the eye of the beholder, but beauty is also learning to appreciate
simplicity.



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WORKS CITED
1. Arthurs, Deborah. "The Aliens Have Landed! Green Skin, Crazy Hair and See-through
Dresses... Yes, It's London Fashion Week Again." Daily Mail Online. Associated
Newspapers, 18 Feb. 2012. Web. 11 June 2014.
2. "Damien Hirst & Alexander McQueen Collaboration." Alexander McQueen. N.p., 13 Nov.
2013. Web. 11 June 2014.
3. McClain, Kia. "The Alexander McQueen 2013 Spring/Summer Runway Collection." Stylish
Eve. N.p., 26 Sept. 2013. Web. 11 June 2014.
4. Meyer, John R. "Impact of Insects." Impact of Insects. NC State University, Jan. 2007. Web.
11 June 2014.
5. "The Uses of Silk." The Uses of Silk. INTER Soie FRANCE, n.d. Web. 11 June 2014.