"I think everybody has a different definition of what beauty is," explains German artist and designer Annelie Gross, whose wearable art series, Defects, introduces the topic of orthopedics into the world of fashion and seeks to introduce another aesthetic to medical aids. Born into a family of orthopedic technicians, Gross' interest in bodily deformities and defects seemed almost hereditary. She says she grew up surrounded by a spirit of assisting human bodies that weren’t blessed by nature with traditional "perfection."
Gross, whose mother taught her how to sew and cut patterns at a very young age, first found her interest in the basic elements of fashion after presenting her womenswear collection for her BA. “I felt that pure womenswear or menswear was just not enough for me. I wanted to go a bit deeper and explore further fields of fashion and especially work with materials like leather, plastics and metal.” The study of Fashion Artefacts, first introduced by the London College of Fashion, is what Gross describes as "a mixture of art and fashion, wearable art." Defects emerged during Gross' MA in 2012, and consists of eight handcrafted pieces.
“Within this collection I explored the theme of prosthetics and medical aids in general,” Gross said. “I asked myself why medical aids had to look unattractive? I wanted to create something that was more appealing and tried to introduce the topic of orthopedics into the world of fashion. I wanted to challenge the current idea of orthotics as well as societies body ideal."
Taking inspiration from her family's own orthopedic workshops in Germany, Gross' artefacts include polyethylene corsetry, acrylic glass parts, and leather detailing, each developed specially for the project, which took her several months to realize. The shape of each piece takes influence from the body's ability to contort - whether for aesthetic purposes, like in dance or gymnastics, or as a result of physical deformities. As a young person, Gross herself was a competing gymnast.
"My pieces are body objects that can be worn for performance. They are not meant for everyday life, since they would harm and distort the body," Gross said. "By wearing my pieces, a healthy person is suddenly in a different position: it gives the wearer pain. In the context of fashion, you could see it as a high heel for other body parts."