Issue 1: Isolation
Issue 1: Isolation

Enter The Monastery

My latest collection, and its life in quarantine.

Words by Clara Pinto. Photographs by Ornella Greco, Josefina Cagliero and Lourdes Vita.

Photograph by Josefina Cagliero and Lourdes Vita
DURING THESE DAYS, MY SUBCONSCIENCE AWAKENED AND CROSSED THE GAP INTO MY AWARENESS. I WOULD WAKE UP SCREAMING, TRANSFORMED.

After five years of living in London, I was back in my childhood home in Buenos Aires, confined by lockdown. To move around the world according to your own intentions and agenda is an adult condition, but here I was again, confined to my childhood home and bedroom. I was in Argentina to make an ambitious presentation of my latest collection, with a plan to showcase my garments alongside a performance installation, hoping to engage a big team. 

The virus hit immediately for people who live a fast-paced life–those who were most exposed. Confusion, hope, resilience and innovation proliferated to cope with the situation; but ultimately, we had to stop and isolate ourselves. It was a kind of surrender.

I stayed in my room for 40 days. Working continuously, smoking, barely eating and suffering from a long-distance relationship that was coming to an end. 

During these days, my subconscious mind awakened and crossed the gap into my awareness. I would wake up screaming, transformed.

That’s when my latest collection took a spin. I knew I had to let go of previous expectations of success and change course. I submerged into a journey of childhood reminiscence.

I read Carl Jung and learned how dreams cannot be confined to the back of the mind. How we must instead embrace them as agents of transformation.

I BEGAN TO REALIZE AN ARC OF CONSCIOUSNESS, IMAGINING MYSELF AS THE EMPRESS, UNDERSTANDING THAT I NEEDED THE RETREAT AND HUMILITY OF THE HERMIT IN ORDER TO REEMERGE AS THE WARRIOR.

For the collection, I worked with three of Jung’s archetypes that I could clearly identify in my dreams: The Empress, The Hermit, and The Warrior. The collection is titled Enter the Monastery. I began to realize an arc of consciousness, imagining myself as the Empress, understanding that I needed the retreat and humility of the Hermit in order to reemerge as the Warrior. Each type was represented by specific materials and techniques, and each look resulted in a corresponding document. I upcycled by-products that I collected myself: discarded dirty wool, panels of PVC used before as awnings, fabric scraps left at home from university days and inherited sequins and beads I had saved from my great aunt that were left in drawers of my old room. I engaged in a full repurposing of remnants from my past. It felt as if I were sweeping the floor; maybe to make it dirty again, or maybe just as a simple reminder that in order to create work you always need to touch the ground first.

The Empress represents full bloom and fertility. I used offcuts from fabrics I had printed when I was in University to do the flowers that are embellished throughout the surface of the dress. I digitally printed lots of different images from London skies, to tie it visually to the language of my dreams. The look was all about abundance and warmth. Its documentation was made outdoors – a contradiction or denial of the present times, resulting in fantasy and nostalgic scenery.

Artist portrait by Antony Crolla

The Hermit bears similarities to a magician. For this look I used Swarovski crystal beads mixed with felted wool and tulle. I wanted to protect the wearer with layers of fabric and crystals. This piece has electric green tulle and tartan fabric to make it a bit of a mess. The silhouette changes with movement as the layers open. The portraits were taken via FaceTime, replicating the aesthetic of the 20’s, a period in which the Spanish Flu led to years of confinement and distance.

The Warrior is all about plastic, groundedness, and life in the city. Contrary to the mystery of the dream world,  it is overt, conveying strength with a classic silhouette. But it is dripping with layers of oil and embellished with inherited metallic beads from my great-aunt. I wanted to do a statement piece and claim a space opposite to the previous dreamier, lighter-weighted tulles.


Clara Pinto is a fashion designer from Buenos Aires, Argentina, currently working in the U.K. Her work is handcrafted using natural materials. She often makes bespoke garments inspired by what she collects, using biological materials like bones, wool and hair to create organic patterns and embroideries. Clara has worked for Peter Pilotto and Martine Jarlgaard and is an artist of the Sarabande Foundation, created by Alexander McQueen.


Learn more about the collections and art of Clara Pinto.