Story of Books
Toronto, Canada: where
6 mins: read time
According to the Dewey Decimal System Rosamunde Pilcher's Coming Home would file into the fiction section; where it would be placed alphabetically by the author’s last name. At the Toronto Reference Library, Sienna Sekand pulls a copy off the shelf. This copy a 1996 edition no longer lives amongst the stacks, but is a part of her Book Bag series. Decorated with ribbons that meet in an oversized bow, the book is transformed past only readable object to one that is wearable as well. We brought her Book Bags to the library where they were filed in would be places while we chatted about creativity through accident and conscious consumption.
This summer, you worked on a collection of clothing made out of trash. How did you decide on which pieces of trash you wanted to work with?
I’ve been collecting trash my entire life. I knew what I had and what I wanted to recycle. It was basically using what I already had, instead of getting new things that would eventually turn into trash. Looking at what you have and how it goes together is kind of how any collection would be made. This was no different to me. I had to buy a few things to implement the ideas, but those items were about connectivity and holding the main parts together.
How did working with rejected materials
spark your creativity?
Well, nothing was one big piece of fabric. Everything was already made into weird shapes. So it was fun to figure out what to create with unconventional forms.
Would you consider the collection more of an exercise in creativity or would you encourage people to take it as a more serious step in fashion where they would be wearing parts of trash in everyday lives?
I would say it’s not at the level it needs to be where people could consider it as actual fashion. The Trashion pieces were more wearable art. If you are going out and wearing straight up plastic it may not be viable as an everyday option. It’s more conceptual, so I would consider it more of an exercise.
Something that came out of the Trashion collection that you are making into more of an everyday object is the Book Bag. When you are creating the bags, are you choosing based on the cover or are the books certain
favourites of yours?
At the time of the Trashion show, I was using books that were being discarded. It was almost like a stroke of genius that I saw books being thrown away and came up with the idea for an accessory. Now that I’ve gone into production with them for the public, I go look for covers which fit the theme of my collection. I do read the backs to make sure the content is something I would want to encourage people to read. I did a collection of Romance Novels. It was not hard to find a beautiful cover in that section, but some of the things you find in that writing can be kind of iffy. So many things play into certain stereotypes, which lead to fantasies that are not well written.
Do you feel like, in the scheme of novels, Romance Novels are often thought of as too trivial?
Yes, in a way I feel like a lot of them are built on cliches. I think the themes of fantasy repeat too often, just the characters seem to change. It might be the same problems over and over again; they can’t be together, they end up together, they have “good times” together.
I used to massively consume romance novels growing up. It got me through a lot of the weird puberty times. I probably read a hundred of them. Yup, those cliche ones.
That explains so much.
I loved them because there was a bit of escapism and an easy read without a lot of challenge.
It just made me feel good.
I know, that’s the thing. It is a fantasy that caters to the people who are reading it. In high school, I read Twilight which is pretty not romantic, but it was romantic at the time.
Can you think of an example of a well-written romance novel? Maybe one that is a bit more intellectual than a Harlequin?
No, I can’t think of anything. I don’t really read Romance, I still prefer mystery. The closest thing would be the Alchemist; where he falls in love with Fatima. Still, the romance isn’t the main plot. The plot was finding himself.
Which is a type of Romance.
In a way yeah, you have to love yourself before you can love someone else. That’s what they say. UGGGHHH
If you could write a book what would
you write about?
I feel like I would want to write a True Crime novel. That requires so much research and maybe we don’t have the murder of our time… a case of the century. OJ was 20 years ago. I could write about the current Gay Village serial killer, but that's pretty sad so I don’t think I’d want to.
Wouldn’t any serial killer story be sad?
That's true. I feel like the ones I read are before my time so they don’t read as real, they read like fiction. I just read Helter Skelter and it was so good. I kept thinking, “Charles Manson, that can’t be a real person” But he just died last year. Still there is a bit of a disconnect. So I am recanting my answer.
Have you ever seen someone reading a book in public and been sparked to talk to them or to want to read that book?
I’d say yes but I can’t think about exactly which book. I used to see people on the subway reading and think that something looked interesting. I guess I don’t find myself in too many places where people read anymore.
Do you think that people would read more if they could wear their book?
I think so. If you are going out with a book now you need to carry it in a bag. If you can wear it then it’s cute. You don’t have to put it into and out of a bag which can be clunky.
What book someone is reading can say a lot about that person. So maybe wearing one as an accessory means this fashion can become more of a statement.
People like what they like but no two people like the exact same things. There are millions and millions of books out there, each person will find the one that they like. They will be wearing an accessory which is extremely unique to them. We are in an age of consumerism that is not just consuming products but also consuming content. You never have to be bored, this way you can always have something to consume. This is what we are used to right now - instant gratification. With the book, you can consume something that isn’t just going on your phone.
Interview and photography by Alexis Venerus
Venn Diagrams by Alexis and Sienna
Follow Sienna @Kawaii_sienna