A few months ago I found this suit jacket and skirt at the thrift store and I just had to have it. Rich army green, great cut and very WWII era. It was love at first sight. The buttons adorning the double breasted jacket were awful so those were the first things to go. I set out online to find military buttons. I needed a specific number and size; eight large and two small. But nothing I found was really working out for me. So we decided to go local. After some searching we found an army surplus store and I went in and asked for buttons. There were so many choices of insignia and patches and whatever else. But the woman at the counter pulled out an old plastic bucket and we dumped it onto the counter. I only needed ten of the right style, size and condition but I ended up getting a whole bag of military buttons. ~I’m positive they will get used at some point~ It was fantastic. So the buttons were lovingly replaced.
At this specific moment what the little strap on the shoulder is supposed to be called is completely eluding me. Maybe that is because every time someone tells me what they are called I think its a little ridiculous and then I forget it all over again. gah. But just the same I thought that the outfit really needed these to make it look more military. Lucky me there were shoulder pads made of the same material so I took these out. Cut, pinned, sewed and Ta Da we have those shoulder strap thingies. ~actually it was no way near that simple. I am pretty much self taught so I am figuring all this out as I go. I only had this small circle of fabric to work with and I was so nervous about messing it up.~ But it all turned out ok. So I added the buttons and the shoulder straps. And then I made the helmet.
This is where things get interesting. I found this amazing vintage helmet at an antique store. So excited! I also had a few skull masks that I had picked up at Michael’s around Halloween. Somehow it came about that I paired the mask with the helmet and Travis had the idea of doing different ones so that they could be changed out. It’s awesome. I love it. Think it worked out great. And I have the perfect model and am waiting to hear back from the museum as to if they will let us shoot there and when. So this is all great but as I was putting the full outfit together today something struck me. What if people are offended by this? My intention was always that the skull mask made it bad ass but putting it together I could see how it could also be interpreted as a death mask. At first I was worried that it may not be well received or may cause controversy. I offered to keep it out of the shoot at the museum but as I think about that more I feel that the whole piece completely loses its potency without the mask.
My fiance and I just finished watching “Band of Brothers”. My goodness, I hardly know what to say to express the emotions I felt. It is very well done, very powerful. And what people go through in war is terrible. The mask in my outfit could be a kill mask or a death mask and either way there lies horror behind it. Some see war as a game to be won but we must look at the cost. The soldiers may win the battle but all have lost something more. The power of life or death goes either way as the person may be the essence of those who take life and are destroyed by it or that of a person already lost to death themselves that torment their own life taker.
Another potent point of the mask is that I feel often leaders of great armies lose the sense of connection to the individuals. Soldiers become faceless and when we are able to abandon that connection we tend to dehumanize them. It is easy to make devastating decisions when you have no emotional connection to a few thousand faceless.
Suddenly this outfit just became this huge, important piece of art that I feel so desperate to share with the world. I love my own work, of course, but my clothing and jewelry isn't often thought provoking. I really really hope the museum lets me shoot there. This has become a very big deal to me.