In 1976, feminist writer and political activist Diana E. H. Russell redefined femicide as ‘the killing of females by males because they are female.’ It is this misogynistic murder of women around the world that knitwear student Cansu Lisa Aytac protests against in her BA collection.
Aytac initially turned to her Turkish heritage as inspiration – the country’s annually reported figures of femicide: 440 in 2018, 474 in 2019 and 300 in 2020, shocked the 26 year old. These numbers recur throughout her work: the 440 pairs of high heels installed on an Istanbul wall by artist Vahit Tuna in 2018 – referenced heavily by Aytac; the 474 pairs of hosiery donated from UK factory deadstock used to create the collection; the 300 hand crocheted, blood red flowers that appear across her work.
Whilst the narrative of sex-based murder is often neglected by the mainstream media, Aytac resolved to represent it unflinchingly. Stitches, patching together panels of stretched, gossamer hosiery, are as obvious as sutures; bare skin is summoned by looks soaked in resin. ‘I am naturally drawn to the idea of having something to say in my work,’ Aytac explains, describing how she confronts the Turkish law under which victims marry their rapists, with a couture-esque wedding gown, all white crinoline and delicate organza, until scarlet red acrylic was smeared across it by a model at the designer’s instruction.
Jess Worth, BA Fashion Journalism