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JOSEPH WILLIAM RAIDT; A VISUALISATION OF MY GRANDMOTHER'S ALZHEIMER'S


WORDS, DESIGNER, + CREATIVE CONCEPT JOSEPH WILLIAM RAIDT - PHOTOGRAPHY SOPHIA BECKMANN






Since a young age I have always had problems with communication. First it was speaking, later it was speaking about problems, societal views and norms which I did not agree with. Starting being interested in fashion I realized that this medium helped me to express my views of the world. I acknowledged that I could somehow visualize my thoughts into something that could speak by itself. Starting with personal themes and things that I have seen as something that I

needed to talk about in my life I used as a concept. Taking these topics which were far from fashion gave me the opportunity to experiment and make things that are not closely related to fashion but turn them into something wearable.





In my latest project, my graduation collection ‘Oma Gertrude’, it was my ambition to use fashion as a language to communicate with my grandmother who is suffering from Alzheimer’s. Seeing Oma Gertrude’s condition, the project started with strengthening our relationship by learning to reconnect and understand her way of thinking. Taking her past occupation as a seamstress into account, and the way she still had these technical abilities, we found a common ground of communicating. She was knitting every day, which I found triggering as it is a technical act,, which she hasn’t forgotten. How could she forget names, how to cook, social rules and any realization of time and place but could still know the technique to hand knit?





I decided to undertake an experimental workshop with her. By allowing Oma Gertrude to become the main conductor of the work, she was given the freedom to put together disassembled clothing items according solely to her altered perception of right and wrong. No one would interfere with her choice. This lead to interesting aspects of typical social barriers being broken down. Her ability to create clothing without remembering the `correct ́ way of garment construction fascinated me, creating the base for us to continue having conversations about the craft of making in a `not-so-fashion ́ fashion context.





These notions were the starting points for the visualization of my grandmothers Alzheimers. In using my grandmother’s clothing, curtains and tablecloths, my choice in fabrics allows textiles to embody a collective memory. I then started imagining how she interacted with the furniture and objects in her home when she was alone. Household items which are obvious and simple for us to identify and use – whether a washing machine or a water jug – had become foreign to her. To technically translate these 3-dimensional shapes into garments, I constructed this collection using

a sculpturing technique I developed throughout the past 3 years. This technique progressed from cutting and gluing old mattresses to a more refined steaming and layering of Fiberfill. I attempt to redefine garment construction in moving away from the idealistic patterns and challenging myself to find new methods in realizing the absurdity of wearable objects as garments and blur the line between what’s fashion and what’s not.







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