Tina Gorjanc, a cheeky student/designer at London’s legendary art and fashion school Central Saint Martins, plans to grow swathes of Alexander McQueen’s skin from DNA, tan the hide and construct it all into a human leather jacket. Goodbye horses! I’m flying over you!
It’s creepy, but it’s meant to be. Gorjanc will harness McQueen’s DNA from locks of hair he included in the tag of garments in “Jack the Ripper Stalks His Victims”—McQueen’s 1992 graduate collection, also at Central Saint Martins—and has proposed to turn the skin into handbags and backpacks as well, patent willing. According to Dezeen, her objective is not to make you feel like a Donner party refugee or deranged serial killer, but to challenge the process by which it’s legal to actually own human DNA:
“The Pure Human project was designed as a critical design project that aims to address shortcomings concerning the protection of biological information and move the debate forward using current legal structures,” Gorjanc said.
“If a student like me was able to patent a material extracted from Alexander McQueen’s biological information as there was no legislation to stop me, we can only imagine what big corporations with bigger funding are going to be capable of doing in the future.”
She’s already cut prototypes using pigskin, which is probably more palatable than human flesh to your average non-vegan (though I’m sure one would argue their equality); to make those more “realistic,” she gave the pigskin freckles and designed a lapel on the moto jacket with a koi fish tattoo similar to one the designer had on his body. The right sleeve of the jacket, too, reads “Love looks not with the eyes, but with the mind”—a quote from A Midsummer Night’s Dream that McQueen, too, had tatted on his right bicep.
McQueen died by suicide in 2010, a month shy of his 41st birthday. Gorjanc’s bio says that she was drawn to fashion in part because of an interest in human anatomy, and her projects there seem to share a subversive spirit with the late designers, some pieces looking more like sculptures or installations than what we might consider traditional “fashion” in 2016 (a sad epoch for “fashion,” one must admit, but this is why student presentations are so vital—they’re not yet caught up in the capitalist tidal wave of it all).
Gorjanc’s thesis for her project, which is entitled “Pure Human-Embodied Luxury,” reads in part:
Tissue engineering technologies grow more sophisticated each day, thus the lack of protection regarding biological patent law allows bioengineering companies to obtain ‘raw’ materials from surgical patients without their consent. These materials are then processed into products, copyrighted by the manufacturing company and sold worldwide for huge profits.
“The primary goal of ‘Pure Human,’” she continues, “is to address shortcomings concerning the protection of biological information and move the debate forward by using current legal structures.”
As a concept, it sits at the intersection of design, technology and protest, which makes it urgently relevant. At the same time... I’m not tryna wear human skin, even or perhaps especially the human skin of a famous designer who would no doubt appreciate her mettle. Gotta give her props for the idea, though.
Image via Tina Gorjanc/by Tom Mannion.