Monday, April 27, 2015

Paper doll fanzine (MFMM)

So, its almost time for another Hamilton Zine Fest. I'm working on my next zine, which is as different from, and as meaningful an expression of my current focus... as every other zine in my unpredictable oeuvre. Along with altered books, zines are the most playful of my creative practices. More than with anything else I make, zines allow me the freedom to be spontaneous, imperfect, and intimate.

So many things going on in this little zine. 

I'm indulging in some fandom for the Australian TV show Miss Fisher's Murder Mysteries, based on Kerry Greenwood's detective novels about the Hon. Miss Phryne Fisher, an extremely well-dressed 'lady detective' in 1920's Melbourne.  My fondness for these female-hero wish-fulfillment novels made me wary of the screen version for a long time. I'd been disappointed too often by poor interpretations of beloved books. But watching the DVD is just as good (and sometimes better) as it stays pretty true to its literary origins. Miss Fisher is such a bold, confident, independent role model that I fantasize wearing her exquisite clothes could lend me some of her sass and flounce.

The zine manifests that fantasy as a paper doll to colour, cut out and play with, if you are so inclined. I loved making paper dolls as a child, and this project has reconnected me with that kind of play.  The doll is more or less me (in fancier lingerie and higher heels than real life) but the clothes are Miss Fisher's.

These drawings have emerged from a seismic shift in my thinking about how I look and what I wear.  It's taken a lifetime of battling with all the body shame (and damage) that showers down on women everywhere, but a couple of years ago I arrived at this place of genuinely loving my own body. True: I love how my body feels, what it does, and how it looks both in and out of clothes. I'm healthier and happier than I've ever been (even when I was young and slim)  and I refuse to let numbers on labels, tables or scales make me feel otherwise.

Entwined with my confidence and appreciation for my own body is a complete change of wardrobe. After years of 'not caring' about much more than comfort and tidiness in my hand-me-down clothes I have finally started dressing for pleasure. And what a pleasure it is to wear clothes that tell stories of the kind of woman I imagine myself to be instead of trudging in lockstep with the chainstore masses. 
I've been making all my own clothes for the past 6 months, mostly out of fabrics repurposed from secondhand clothes and linens. My dressmaking and pattern drafting development has accelerated with this as my creative focus. But it's not always easy to visualise how a pattern will look on my non-standard body. Finding this resource with its diverse body templates for fashion drawing was a revelation. 
Essie Davis, the actress who plays Miss Phryne Fisher has the slender boyish figure which was ideal in the 1920s, so she wears her fabulous costumes effortlessly. Simply upsizing her clothes onto my womanly curves doesn't work, so the paper doll project has allowed me to explore the kinds of adaptions that would make those styles flatter me while retaining their most inspiring features.
The zine includes four outfits for the dress up doll and a bonus boyfriend paper doll (Detective Inspector Jack Robinson, the show's hero and its main departure from the novels).  After launching at the Hamilton Zine Fest on 16 May, I'll put the zine in my Etsy shop but you can pre-order now by emailing meliors6(at)gmail(dot)com.  Suggestion: buy 2 copies, one to keep and one to cut up.