My thesis collection, Masked for Battle, serves as my personal response to women's experiences with violence and intimidation in public spaces. Women's personal space and comfort in urban areas is often compromised by their treatment as sex objects, a reality I find infuriating. My designs are meant to reflect a woman's confidence and boldness making her physical appearance so striking that she is immune to unwanted contact with everyone from ignorant hecklers on the street to perpetrators of violence. I have attempted to create a collection in which the female wearer is the one to be feared and revered.
In order to best visualize my overarching theme I gravitated towards samurai armor, particularly the grimacing samurai Menpo masks, as my primary source of inspiration. Samurai armor was explicitly designed to intimidate the enemy and it perfectly showcases the dichotomy between beauty and aggression that I am interested in as a designer. I found a wealth of inspiration studying the curvilinear lines of the samurai facial armor, the rigid linearity of lamellar armor and various traditional Japanese lacing techniques. Ultimately, my inspiration led to my textile development for the collection which is comprised of 3 main elements: hand-woven leather, leather lacing and embroidered prints composed from my watercolor paintings of the samurai mask. All the looks in the collection are accessorized with weapon-like jewelry, which I hand carved from jewelers wax and had cast in sterling silver.