At first glance, the scene looks like a pile of laundry: trousers, pullovers, and pajamas that loosely wrap around each other, skirts and blouses stacked on top of each other. But underneath, dark curls and an arm reveal that a human is hiding here. Only the title of the photo and the few body parts give hints that it is probably a woman – any further interpretation is left to the viewers. The woman seems to be young, likes to dress fashionably, but what kind of person is she?
Canadian photographer Libby Oliver has shot men and women for her project “Soft Shells” – all covered by the contents of her wardrobe. The casting of the models was done based simply on their wardrobe, as the artist wanted to show as many styles as possible. Still, she tried to cover a wide range of social and cultural backgrounds. Oliver has photographed friends, family, and neighbors, but also found willing participants via the Internet. The youngest person portrayed is 4, while the oldest is 88.
Oliver insists her project is not a criticism of over-consumption. According to her, fashion has the potential to express one’s personality, but also to control one’s own image as representation and concealment of people’s identity.
So far, Oliver only photographed in Canada but has plans to travel to other countries to shoot a wider range of clothing and cultures which she intends to publish in a book.