Lígia Carvalho Abreu (2016)

Amorphous Fall/Winter Collection 2016-2017 Photos by Ugo Camera/Portugal Fashion

Red, black and beige woven wool in black organza, as strings on the skin. The girls’ mouth silenced by red makeup effect. Maybe, the strongest images of the M001 Cesura Collection designed by Carla Alves for her brand Amorphous. With this 2016/2017 Fall Winter Collection, Carla Alves was one  of the winners at the Bloom Contest, an event integrated in the 38th edition of Portugal Fashion Week, which aims to promote and reward young talented designers.

M001 Cesura is a short ready-to-wear collection of four designs, all with visual appeal and substance.  It represents the creative value and social conciseness of designer Carla Alves, who wanted to materialise through her garment pieces “a clear vision of the maximum primary aspect of the vital human condition, freedom of choice, freedom from longstanding social and moral stigmas that force people to subsist in inhumane conditions or subject them to various types of exclusion and punishment.”[i]

The entire runway show was a silent scream of freedom against female genital mutilation.

This practice, founded on social and religious motivations, which still subsists in several parts of the world (in particular in the western, eastern and north-eastern regions of Africa, some countries in Asia and the Middle East, as well as among certain immigrant communities in North America and Europe), provokes irreversible damages to the health, physical and psychological integrity of young girls and women. It is a sadist ritual of pain, against the natural functioning of the body and, in some cases, causing death.   

According to Amnesty International and several United Nations’ organisations, such as the World Health Organisation: “an estimated 135 million girls have undergone female genital mutilation with dire consequences ranging from infection (including HIV) to sterility, in addition to the devastating psychological effects;[ii] and 3 million girls are estimated to be at risk of undergoing the procedures every year.”[iii] 

From a fundamental rights perspective, the free and equal personal development of young girls, and future women, is undermined by this practice of torture. It is a crime against human nature which violates the principle of human dignity, equality and non-discrimination.  It is a subjugation of women to the will of a community, perpetuating gender inequality. Female genital mutilation is against the fundamental freedom of women deciding what to do with their own body to protect it. It is an imposition and not a child or woman’s free and clarified decision. Hence, no freedom of religion or expression of a belief justifies the violation of other rights, such as life, health or physical and psychological integrity.       

Countries affected by female genital mutilation have laws that consider this practice illegal and promote campaigns so as to raise awareness to its negative effects on children and women. Although the practice has declined, it still subsists due to the lack of capacity of control and prosecution.

Thus, to contribute to a counterculture against horror is a duty of all individuals.  A fashion show or a fashion collection is an expression of culture. And, Carla Alves, as a fashion designer, is part of those cultural movements which accompanies the reality and the social worries of humanity while searching for new possibilities of creative design.   

 

[i] Amorphous’ Press Release, Portugal Fashion.  

[ii] Amnesty International, Violence against Women: http://www.amnestyusa.org/our-work/issues/women-s-rights/violence-against-women/violence-against-women-information  

For more information see also the platform End FGM:  http://www.endfgm.eu/

[iii]Eliminating Female Genital Mutilation. An Interagency statement OHCHR, UNAIDS, UNDP, UNECA, UNESCO, UNFPA, UNHCR, UNICEF, UNIFEM, WHO, http://www.un.org/womenwatch/daw/csw/csw52/statements_missions/Interagency_Statement_on_Eliminating_FGM.pdf