What’s your medium?

Fashion as the art of expression, according to the Queen’s community

Image supplied by: Supplied by Maya Ginzburg
Ginzburg’s VCFS collection was made of synthetic fibers.

British fashion designer Vivianne Westwood describes fashion as a philosophy of life, a way to connect with oneself and those around them. 

Fashion has cultivated a culture that pushes boundaries and fuels individuality across the world. For some, the clothes they wear mean little more than comfort and shelter. For others, clothes are a way to construct an identity and express themselves. 

In the third instalment of the column exploring artistic mediums through the eyes of the Queen’s community, The Journal sat down with freelance stylist and designer, Maya Ginzburg, Kin ’22, and MUSE’s fashion editor, Nadine Ivanov, ArtSci ’23. 

Ginzburg has been drawn to artistic creation of any kind from a young age.

“Art doesn’t have to have a physical purpose right away,” she said. “Its biggest purpose is decorative and emotional […] that’s exactly why I was so drawn to it.” 

An interest that started as building houses and wardrobes for doll houses has become SSENSE and Maison Dominique Ouzilleau. 

“It frustrated me that these things didn’t have a physical applicable purpose and as I got older, I started getting more interested in fashion and how I dress,” she said.

Learning sewing from her mom, Ginzburg always had someone to help her upcycle clothes or make Halloween costumes. When she got asked to the prom in 11th grade and her dress budget was tight, she and her mom decided to make one instead.

“We worked together to make that first prom dress and it was an amazing process,” she said. 

“From making it and then having a product that was art that, despite not being a mug you drink out of or a piece of furniture, you [could] use every day. It was still something that could be used and have a purpose while fulfilling those things we need from art.”

From there, her limits expanded. The following year she made a full-fledged gown and while attending Queen’s, designed a collection for the Vogue Charity Fashion Show (VCFS) out of waste. 

Apart from her mother who taught her the methods of creation, Ginzburg named Vivienne Westwood as one of the designers who inspires her the most.

“As I started to look more into the history of fashion and really researching things, that kind of fight the power rebelling against the norms element of Vivienne Westwood,” she said. 

“Style wise, I have a huge amount of respect for Margiela […] tying in utility for the Tabi boots that are so popular now that were inspired by Japanese fishermen and farmers wearing platform sandals with socks designed for the flip-flops.” 

Sustineri, Ginsburg’s collection for VCFS’s 2022 show, centred around sustainability.

“I was adamant about making sure everything was recycled or sustainably sourced, either thrifted or recycled materials—taking literally garbage donated by the cast and taking time to build up enough things [for a collection].”

One of her pieces was made from the plastic knitting that oranges come in; Ginzburg spent the year snacking on the fruit and slowly adding enough material to make a shirt. 

“I think it was one of the last things I finished and the first thing I started.”

Ginzburg sought to comment on the intrinsically capitalist society we live in and how it continuously values money over the environment. She crocheted a $20 bill, and made a piggy bank purse and breastplates to represent oil and synthetic colour.

“The amount of time and effort put into this is so much more than how we apply value to money—it’s a piece of paper that took a cent to print.”

Graduating from Queen’s Kinesiology had Ginzburg on track for medical school, but she has since shifted her career direction to fashion design. LinkedIn deep dives and cold messaging exposed her to the industry as she worked her way from Garage to SSENSE as a stylist. 

When asked what advice she’d give to students wanting to break into the creative industry, she spoke to finding a “why” and building an easily accessible portfolio. 

“Reaching out to people in positions that are similar to what you want to do also lets you know where to move forward in your career and learn from professionals. At the end of those conversations, I’d ask if they could send me feedback for my work.”

Likewise, Nadine Ivanov approaches fashion with a mix of comfort-seeking and expression. At first, she gravitated toward dancing—then life happened. 

“I got into a pretty bad car accident and my back and neck are still messed up from it so I can’t really dance anymore.”

“I’ve always been such a creative person and I needed an outlet. Clothes just became something I felt like I could always control, and it was such an empowering, gratifying feeling of being able to dress yourself and actually be comfortable in what you wear.” 

Ivanov’s personal style is based on Peggy Goo, a Korean DJ, and seeing her friends try different styles out. Taking inspiration from those around you is how fashion has built such a strong community—it encourages others to take pleasure in what they wear. 

“One of the MUSE pieces in print talks about how fashion and giving fashion advice can be a love language or bonding experience between people. Fashion is bigger than just putting clothes on your body,” she said.

Shoes are something Ivanov has taken note of in recent months, moving past the days of tried-and-true Nike Air Force 1s and Adidas Superstars. 

“I love watching shoes. Before people didn’t care as much, but now I think people are really paying attention to that and thrifting shoes and exploring.”

While Queen’s used to feel much more uniformed in the fashion varieties, Ivanov has noticed more people straying away from normative style identities and branching into what they enjoy. 

“Putting yourself in a space to meet like-minded people with clubs or communities on campus makes you comfortable to express yourself externally and not care about what others may think.”


Design, Fashion, MUSE, SSENSE, Vogue

All final editorial decisions are made by the Editor(s)-in-Chief and/or the Managing Editor. Authors should not be contacted, targeted, or harassed under any circumstances. If you have any grievances with this article, please direct your comments to journal_editors@ams.queensu.ca.

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