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  • Erykah Badu hat collaboration

McLean, Flora, 2019, Art or design object, Erykah Badu hat collaboration

Abstract or Description:

The bedrock of Flora McLean’s research is through physical making, much in line with the conservatory-style art school culture at the Royal College of Art. Her material explorations occur within her own studio alongside the Footwear, Accessories, Millinery and Eyewear studio at the RCA. She challenges standard construction techniques (instead using welding, melting, moulding), expected use of materials (preferring plastic gardening mesh, acrylic, Perspex), and creative intentions (mounting pieces on external stone statues, headpieces that read brainwaves). She very rarely uses traditional millinery materials like sinamay, felt or Paris net, for example. For McLean, hats are well beyond adornments. They are multi-faceted expressions captured within three-dimensional worn artefacts.

Key collaborations have also sparked experimentation and are a feature of McLean’s practice. The niche of her aesthetic was recently picked up by the equally individual singer/songwriter/actor Erykah Badu. After connecting through Instagram, Badu expressed a keen interest in McLean’s fashion aesthetic. McLean was subsequently invited to New York to bring several pieces and attend Badu’s performance. Although originally intended to be a hat protector, Badu purchased one of the transparent plastic covers (the Crystal Crown) as a piece unto itself, thereby further extending the reach of McLean’s work. Badu can be seen wearing it during her large-scale shows and in the press.

Badu’s artistic vision and fashion sense are continually evolving, very much aligning with McLean’s pursuits. Badu has since visited McLean’s London studio where, during the three-hour visit, she spoke of her life of music and selected a crocheted beanie, which is now part of her personal collection. They met in Tilburg (The Netherlands) to discuss the February 2020 launch of Badu’s online fashion platform Badu World Market. The visit concluded with a 60-piece order from House of Flora. InStyle Magazine also photographed Badu in one of McLean’s crocheted pieces (S. Cristobal, October 2019).

That McLean’s work within hat making is a visual diagram for her parallel research interests in music and rhythm also helped to solidify the creative connection.

Subjects: Other > Technologies > J400 Polymers and Textiles > J440 Clothing Production > J444 Millinery
School or Centre: School of Design
Copyright Holders: Flora McLean
Date Deposited: 02 Feb 2020 15:51
Last Modified: 03 Feb 2020 13:58
URI: https://researchonline.rca.ac.uk/id/eprint/4298
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