MELKE Spring 2022

Emma Gage, founder and designer of MELKE, tells us that MELKE’s spring 2022 collection is inspired by “the polymorphism and abstraction of Autobiography of Red: a Novel Verse by Anne Carson. The deadly encounter turned love story between Geryon and Herakles is seen in the color palette of rich blood reds, purples, pinks, blues, and dark tones juxtaposed with soft fringe, heavy chains, and feminine cuts.” Carson’s novel reimagines the Greek poem Geryoneis by Stesichorus as a love story between Geryon and Herakles that explores abstractions in human perspectives relative to distance, space, and relationships. Carson’s writing, “I will never know how you see red and you will never know how I see it,” substantiates the idea that MELKE’s collection is meant to be perceived differently by each viewer, an intriguing element.

Anne Carson writes, “there is no person without a world,” and similarly, there is no MELKE without Gage’s creation. We are immersed in MELKE’s world from the beginning of the presentation as the audio sounds like we are being taken underwater to a mythical, muffled, windswept world where fire can’t be drowned. Much of the collection centers around movement and fluidity; textured red fringe details populate many of the pieces along with feminine ruffle cut-outs contrasted against copper chains and silver hardware loops hanging from blue tailored cropped suit jackets. One look in particular features a white cropped tube top with textured red fringe on the bust to form a three-dimensional piece with depth that seems to extend past the frames of the presentation. The top is paired with white tailored pants with red fringe details along the center seam. The concept of fluidity extends to the models as all present a gender fluid image that contributes to MELKE’s vision. MELKE would not be MELKE without its green focus on sustainability; many pieces are made from organic cotton, cruelty free wool voile, and hemp variations.

Carson expresses an intrigue with words in the novel which translates to MELKE’s collection. Carson writes, “Words bounce. Words, if you let them, will do what they want to do and what they have to do.” Two tee-shirt pieces in the collection feature bouncing letters in MELKE’s signature font. One black tee shirt has “CURATED SILENCE” written on it in red while the other is a white tee shirt with “MELKE IT” in black. “Curated silence” describes the collection perfectly; pieces are carefully detailed, while the presentation is generally silent which forces us to tune in fully.

The most interesting vignette of the presentation features three models moving parallel to each other towards flickering red candles. The center model wears a fire detail edge crop top which is also seen in the hem of a skirt. This visual mimics a scene in Carson’s novel in which Geryon, Herakles, and Ancash stand in front of a volcano, each perceiving the image differently. Geryon vocalizes the beauty in being “neighbors of fire” which speaks to the significance of the distance and relationships between humans. MELKE’s collection conceptualizes this through visuals as the space and interactions between models is just as interesting as the blue, red, and black oversized jackets, patterned cut-out dresses, fiery red fringed and pleated pants, and intense eyeshadowed heavy faces.

Images courtesy of MELKE

Emma Gage explains many of the details of the collection through imagery and symbolism: “lava is a constant reference throughout, many of the silhouettes and cutouts came from my melting wax and seeing the shapes they took as they dried. The chains represent the idea that we can feel trapped by what can also set us free.” Ultimately, she notes that the collection is about self-acceptance and awareness as it “acknowledges the growth that comes from destruction, flowers that rise from the ash, and peace that comes after chaos.”

—Tessa Swantek

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