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Merbeu's Garments of Protection: Talking Handmade Soft Shells with Amanda Bodell
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D: Hey Amanda, I am so happy that we finally connected! What I love the most about your work is how you manage to blend fairy punk, post-gothic, nature and organic forms in such an effortless way. Can you introduce yourself to our readers and share a little bit about your creative journey into fashion?

A: Thank you! ♥ I'm from a tiny foresty town in Sweden, and now I'm based in Athens, Greece. I have no education in arts and fashion, except for the textile handicraft lessons I had up until the last year of high school (love that about Sweden), where you learn the basics of everything.

I think clothes are an excellent way of expressing yourself. My mom always used to knit when we were kids, and I used to have my head on her arm when she did it and observe the movements of the needles.

D: I really want to learn more about your brand, Merbeau and its creative process. Could you give us a glimpse into how it all comes together? If you could sum it up with a few emojis, which ones would you choose?

A: I started to form my brand, Merbeau, during the summer last year as a knitwear project, and I'm super excited to see how it's going to evolve. I'm giving it free reign, so let's see. The process of creation is never linear. Most of the yarn I use is thrifted, deadstock, or given to me.

Looking at the yarn gives me inspiration, picturing them in different silhouettes and styles, and seeing what is crazy enough, but could still work.

Alternatively, I have an idea and choose the most suitable yarn I have laying around, but my choice of thread is always well thought out. I also strive to choose materials that are sustainable and ethical as much as possible.



D: The bio on your Instagram and Depop accounts describe your creations as "Handmade soft shells." Could you tell us why this definition resonates with your work and how you arrived at this synthesis?

A: Oh, the garments are specially crafted to protect you. I look at clothes that way - they should make you feel confident.

D: You seem often draw inspiration from the ocean. Is this observation accurate? If so, could you share how this influence manifests in your work and what draws you to the sea?

A: I'm a water monkey and have a Pisces moon, so it's in my genes, hehe. Although, I've always had recurring nightmares of drowning. It's so scary and enormous, and mysterious. The flow of water is intriguing, and the sound is calming. So many beautiful creatures live there! What is there to not like?

When I'm at the ocean, I knit with washed-up seagrass. It's the most beautiful thing.. it's like a collaboration.

I did a really nice one last time. It had small shells entangled in it on the beach in Kanazawa, Japan.

D: Could you walk us through the process of creating one of your pieces, from start to finish? Do you follow traditional methods or take a more freestyle approach? And when do you consider a garment ready?

A: I put a lot of time into curating the impressions my brain encounters. Like at a museum or whatever, I don't want to look at something I don't resonate with because it will somehow show up embedded in ideas later, and I don't want that.

Also, unwanted stimulation gives me anxiety, so it's kind of easy to pick and choose what sparks joy.

Imagination is really key to my brand. Since I do freehand, I need to make a quick sketch before I start so that I won't lose my grip completely.

I'll get into a flow easily and tend to follow it wherever it might lead; sketches are handy. I'll go back and check it to make sure the piece will be wearable in the end, lol. The piece is ready when it feels good to wear. This method brings out the punk aspect!

All images courtesy of Amanda Bodell

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