It is always great and inspiring to see a fashion project which goes beyond itself, raising awareness about important subjects. The collaboration of Hanna Rédling photographer and Fábián Kis-Juhász designer from Hungary is one of these works. The fashion editorial they began to work on together grew into a zine which supports the Hungarian trans community. Besides fighting for a good cause, the zine gained international recognition as well with articles published about it in Vogue and Dazed for example.
The Audition Zine is the perfect combination of the playful and sometimes surreal visual world of Hanna Rédling and the creations of Fábián Kis-Juhász, who loves to pair contradictory things in a grotesque and ironic way, inspired by the concept of demonized female archetypes. Overall, the exploration of femininity is the most important common point for the two creatives. “I think the dynamics between us were very good, as I was more focused on the concept and on what we would like to say, while Hanna concentrated on the technical motives and small details.” - says Fábián.
Hanna experiments with special lighting and home made low budget solutions, as it is very important to her to have a characteristic and conscious use of color and vision. She mixes digital and analog technique in her photography: at the production of Audition Zine she had also been using a 35 mm camera to achieve the red and yellow tones. Performance is the keyword of this editorial, so they choose the theatre of an old cultural center as the location. The stage lighting worked well with Hanna’s ideas as she completed it with her own alternative and colorful solutions. “Our concept was to create a dreamy atmosphere which also has some grotesque elements to reflect on the darker and more serious aspects of the issue. I had some exact photos and compositions in my mind, which I wanted to accomplish, but the visual language and the symbolism were all the contribution of Hanna. -says Fábián. Hanna states that these photos are about the safety and unity of a community, placed in an unrealistic environment, which allow the viewer to let go their preconceptions about these women.
Hanna's theatrical compositions put Fábián’s creations and the models in a perfectly aligned frame,in the editorial showcasing her spring 2021 collection. The sculpted corsets with attached nipples, jack o'lantern lace gowns and ruffled socks show us a contemporary representation of garments inspired by historic attires, with a pinch of vintage horror movie influence. As Fábián’s declares, you don’t have to be feminine to be a woman, and you don’t have to be a woman to be feminine. She believes that we should not let these borders rule how we identify ourselves, and fashion is a great tool to blur these lines, though it is still highly influenced by fragile masculinity. In the displayed collection she wanted to improve and perfect her former techniques and ideas, which supports the concept of the zine completely. Fábián also appears in the photos, wearing a white gown and holding a candle, showing the way with the little light.
Beyond Hanna and Fábián's the creativity and vision, the third most important element of this series are the models themselves: they are all members of the Hungarian trans community. “I know all of the models and participants, and finally everybody said yes for the request and were available. If somebody would have cancelled, I have no idea how we could have found other participants for the project. This situation perfectly highlights the problem, what the zine speaks about.” - says Fábián. In Hungary trans people are still hiding in the shadows, and it is not a tendency to show themselves in such a public platform. Most of them just try to live their lives in a safe way. If the atmosphere was not unpleasant enough for these people in their own country, the Hungarian government passed laws in the summer of 2020 banning transgender people from having their gender identity recognized by law, and later they also denied queer couples to adopt children. These events triggered the idea for Hanna and Fábián to create more than a fashion editorial: all revenue from the zine goes to a Hungarian organization supporting trans people, called Transvanilla. To raise awareness and share more information about this important subject, Zsu Zsuro the organiser of Queer Budapest, and Marjolijn Oostermeijer creative writer also contributed with their texts and curatorship in the zine.
I wanted to work as a fashion photographer earlier, but I lost my interest in this genre a long time ago. This project reminded me, how many potential we have in fashion as a medium, and I hope I will have the chance to take part in several similar intiatives in the future.