The clothing is reminiscent of paintings by the Dutch painter Jheronimus Bosch. Chelsea Jean Lamm, 24, and her sister Ashley Elizabeth Lamm, 28, use the printed pieces of silk to create a wearable fabric world populated by unusual mythical creatures. The dresses are delicate, colorful and full of patterns and hidden scenes. Anyone who puts them on becomes such a creature from another world themselves. Chelsea calls them “wearable works of art”.
Chelsea has to hand-sew about 10,000 separate parts for a single dress. It takes hundreds of hours for the pieces of fabric to become a dress. Appreciation and sustainability are therefore important to her and her sister. “What I try to do is not see fashion as just a functional item,” she says. For Germany’s Next Top Model she designed a dress made from 1000 discarded CDs.
Fabric gills, photomicrographs of various butterfly wings, and iridescent fabric swatches hang on the walls of Chelsea. “My workspace often reflects my emotional state. When I have a lot of thoughts or ideas in my head, my walls quickly become mood boards where I can capture and combine anything that inspires me,” she says.
When the wind picks up, the pieces of fabric blow like the leaves on a tree. The clothes seem alive, but also fragile – as if they would fall apart when you put them on. “Actually, they’re pretty robust,” says Chelsea. For example, the blue dress, named Goura Victoria (inspired by the endangered Victoria-crowned pigeon), has survived oceanfront photo shoots and an ecstatic dance performance.
Nine reddish spheres dangle from a network of sea creatures, coral and ancient Roman bronzes. What looks like the ruffle of a trouser hem is actually a hodge-podge of eye diseases cut out of an old medical textbook. Chelsea and her sister spend weeks combing through magazines, newspapers and books for the first needle prick. When the collage is complete, the fragments are printed on silk and other fabrics in London and reassembled by Chelsea in Munich.
Amalgamare is the world Chelsea and her sister dreamed of as children. The clothes they make together today are the creatures that inhabit this fantasy world. The word is derived from the verb to merge, a chemical term meaning to merge. “My sister makes art, I make fashion, we combine both and then something new comes out,” says Chelsea.