There’s something otherworldly about designer Elliot Joseph Rentz’s latest body of work, featuring beautifully sculpted bodices that look more like feathers and scales from an alien than anything of this earth. By completely removing models’ faces with a lineup of masks—his signature—Rentz has established anonymity throughout this collection, celebrating the vast potential of “fiction” and negating the confines of “human.”
In just three looks, the rising talent asserts a strong display of his aesthetic—one that’d have a happy home at both arena-sized pop productions and glamorous underground soirees. Check out a BULLETT exclusive look at Rentz’ new range in motion, below, and read a few thoughts from the visionary himself:
How does this collection compare to your previous work?
I don’t think this collection has many comparisons to my archive work. I’m constantly learning new skills and broadening my imagination so I’m constantly producing new aesthetics. Body forms have always been an interest to me, as working with fabrics and thread doesn’t excite me. I describe my work as armor [because] my garments are rigid and it seems appropriate for the characters I envision wearing them.
You’ve been known to find inspiration from the vulnerability of youth and flirting with death. Does this apply, here?
I spent the last year and a half away from designing. My ex partner committed suicide and it’s not something I ever thought I would have to deal with. Death and loss has always been something somewhat apparent in my life, and it’s something I try not to shy away from because being creative is normally what pulls me out of my lower moments. I wanted to create something timeless for this bulk of work. This collection purely reflects my mood from the last few months of my life.
You’ve created three distinct looks. Is there a narrative that ties them together?
I wanted to create timeless pieces, aged colors and textures—something uncomfortable to look at.
What’s the story behind these masks?
I grew up watching ’90s movies, and what some people won’t notice is that the masks I created for the bodices are life casts from Angelina Jolie, Sharon Stone and Michelle Pfieffer. Talent has always been something I’ve been attracted to and it doesn’t get any more attractive in my eyes than them. Death masks have been around since the begging of time; it captures a moment which unfortunately sometimes we aren’t able to do.
Is anonymity in your work intentional?
When designing or imagining a character, it’s normally a head-to-toe look. For me it’s about taking my viewer somewhere else, distracting them from life if only for a minute and removing the human face or masking it. [This] is just a part of my thought process, it comes very naturally.
What’s your production process?
I’m very hands on with all the pieces I create. It starts with a thought, a dream [or] music. My production has changed from my archive work and I now fibre glass all of my own forms and work from them. I have full control over the sizes and shapes now and it’s far more rewarding for me. It’s a messy and technical process, but I wouldn’t have it any other way. Once I’m happy with the garments, I tend to spend a few days getting myself back into the original thought process and mood when I came up with the designs and shoot everything.