Ara Jo – The Fashion Hypnotist

I have found a new pastime and that is browsing the Showtime gallery on the Arts London website. The site is like an online gallery, I can squander hours on end on the site.

I came across Ara Jo, a fresh Central St. Martins BA graduate whose design featured a bird cage style crinoline dress; a stretchy loose catsuit that restraint movements on your limbs. The headgears boogle the mind of the admirer. A box that makes you feel framed; a bulb over your head that is reminiscent of the glass around a heated tungsten filament and balloons boom like ideas from your brain.


 The whole combo emanates a modern version of Alice in the Wonderland. It looks like a dream, feels like a dream and probably wears like a dream. Ara Jo’s designs impose the state of hypnosis onto the wearer. The mystery of hypnosis can be dark and scary. But this is not what Ara is exloring. The collection is glitzy and flambloyant. The dresses remind you of a sweet dream that keeps you grinning for the day.


The bendy and the flexible material warps the space time continuum and makes you wonder – is this right? And no of course this is not right, it’s not supposed to. The inspiration stemmed from the dreary feeling of hypnosis. It is supposed to be surreal, it is supposed to be an out of body experience. The collection explores the feeling of a virtual-awake state. You can see but you can’t really see; you can move but you can’t really move; you can think but you’re not really thinking. Everything is trap in the space time of a hypnagoic state. Hence it is restrictive and flexi.

For a fresh graduate, Ara Jo has done pretty admirably. Her designs rarely sit in one place. The dresses have already been photographed by Dazed Digital, OUT (an American magazine) and I LOOK (a Chinese magazine).

The exploration of surrealism has paid of. Ara Jo was contacted by celebrity stylists who work for Lady Gaga, Rihanna, Sabrina Washington and the like. The birdcage dress shown above was worn by none other than the devout fashion lover Lady Gaga. When asked whose body would Ara Jo like to see the dresses on the most, she replied, ‘I love to see my collection worn by celebrities. I can see myself working in my studio, contacting celebrity stylists (or maybe being contacted by them?), seeing my collection on magazines…I really love being a fashion designer, I just love it!”


Kiwibiwi: What material were used?

Ara: I really like using stretch fabric. In the crinoline dress, the part of hoodie-which starts from head to the bottom-was made by mesh. The part of dress – I used crinolin and boning. I like boning work too because it really works to give a good shape. So, Mesh as stretch parts + Crinolin & Boning as stiff, shaped parts = an amazing look!!

Kiwibiwi: How many man hours went into making these dresses?

Ara: Omg, I’ve already lost count! I remember it took ages to finish the collection…. especially that short (crinoline) dress and the long black dress (not shown here, visit her site at Showtime). For the boning, I had to stitch down boning in every single seamline. I am sure I used over 50m of boning to make the short dress. So the long black dress? I don’t even want to think about it! But I was really lucky because there were some really experienced technicians at CSM to help final year students. I couldn’t have done it all by myself. I am really thankful to them.

Kiwibiwi: What project are you undertaking right now?

Ara: I have just finished the shooting of my new 2010S/S collection! The collection was inspired by Mermaids. I know the collection is bit late but I don’t mind. I am just so happy to see this amazing collection. I will update new photos in mid December, so visit my web and enjoy!

 Kiwibiwi: What’s your up-coming project?

Ara: As soon as I was finished with the 2010 S/S collection I started my 2010A/W collection. Time is tight so I have to get working so that I can show this collection during 2010 A/W London Fashion Collection.