Manon Kündig‘s colorful, free-spirited and wonderfully over the top graduation collection is the second reason why this year’s show of the fashion department of Antwerp’s Royal Academy of Art really thrilled me. Like with her second year collection “Teddy Bear” I’ve posted about in 2010 and her “Blow Job” from 2011, “Bowerbird” plays with ideas of masculinity and turns them upside down: The collection draws its inspiration from a bird that can be found in the tropical regions of New Guinea and northern Australia and that builds a “Bower” structure decorated with sticks and coloured objects in order to seduce mates. Here are a couple of pictures from the show, more of them can be found on the academy’s website (Manon is the woman in the middle/left on the index page). Or you simply watch the excerpt of the stream of the show at the bottom of this post for an overview.
Like her fellow student Rey Benedict Pador I asked Manon about her ideas behind the collection. This is what she responded:
“The most complicated and remarkable arbour made by birds, is the hut of the Bowerbird. The largest specimens seem to be made by humans, for one could actually sit in it.The cone shaped roofs are supported in the centre by young trees, and are covered with the dried branches of orchids. The soil is a tapestry of dry moss.
On this carpet, carefully ordered, are the treasures of its inhabitant.
Each male bird makes its personal collection. One likes the pink flowers of a nearby climber and covers an entire side of his construction with it. Another collects shiny garbage and treasures it like gold, while a third cuts away the white mushrooms that grow on his collection of dark coloured deer droppings.
One could suppose that the collections play the same role in seducing the female as the feathers of other birds, for the plumage of this bowerbird is a rather dull one.
Maybe it costs less energy to make a collection than to grow decorative feathers that renew every year and obstruct a free flight, like other birds do.
Thus it makes sense: the male bird shows its health and abilities by making a striking collection. Some species safeguard and maintain theirs for several months. This takes a fit male, because a lot of stealing is going on.
Alas, this would only work if every bird collects the same –or at least alike– materials, so the female could pick the one that gathered the most of them, or did it the fastest.
But they don’t. They take what they like.
The females will visit and inspect all of the gatherings, and mate with the owner of the one that pleased them most, regardless of its physical qualities.
As far as I know, there is no other animal that selects its partner on such a base.
Or actually, there is one.”
All pictures (c) Royal Academy of Fine Arts, Antwerp