Ribbon. Branches. Flowers, pots and pans, un-tailored fabric, morning glory, bamboo baskets. Plastic clothes hangers, stuffed animals. Pieces of wood and cement blocks. Balloons. What does this miscellany of things have in common? On the surface, nothing, really. But for a spirited thinker and doer, for someone with a ceaseless drive and a hunger to create something beautiful from the ordinary and the unconventional, these items are access. They are potential pieces of clothing waiting to be imagined and actualized.
Can you imagine a dress composed solely of mosquito netting that spans the length of a palm tree? Apichet "Madaew" Atilattana did. And he made it, too.
Madaew, a 16-year-old student and self-proclaimed fashionista, is from Khon Kaen, Thailand. He uses unconventional materials to craft wearable works of art, underlining the simplicity and unexpected beauty of the mundane - the beauty of what is found in nature.
The result? Ethical, responsible, and sustainable fashion transcending the fleeting quality of contemporary clothing trends. And, in an ironic twist, there's a beauty to the ephemerality of Madaew's creations that utilize natural materials like flowers and plants. These specific creations and works of art don't last forever, but the memory of creating them, and the imagination that they embodied upon completion, has a permanent space in time (and on Madaew's colorful Instagram).
Madaew imagines, crafts, and models all of the clothing himself, and he pulls his inspiration primarily from plants and animals. There is fluidity and balance embedded in the pieces that he creates - he is a thoughtful designer and engineer with a keen eye for detail, and it shows in the finished product.
At once, we're reminded of Kyemah McEntyre, the 18-year-old student from East Orange, New Jersey, who designed and wore a sublime African-inspired dress to her high school's prom. She was crowned the prom queen, but more importantly, she broke the Internet. Kyemah is a student at Parsons now, and over the summer, she created a dress for Power actress and former 3LW member, Naturi Naughton, to wear to the BET Awards.
If these two teach us anything, it's that our creative talent is accessible at any age. Madaew's future is glittering, and we applaud his visionary approach. The lingering question on our minds is this: What will his NYFW show look like? When it happens, we want in on the front row.
author: Rudolph Maag