In an unexpected marriage of macabre and chic, designer Victoria Ledig has created a collection of leather goods from what’s normally considered unusable leftovers—faces, ears and tails. The pieces themselves strike me as cool and gruesome, especially in the shots with the inexplicable nudity—perhaps an intentional juxtaposition of “pretty” skin against “ugly” skin? I’d say there’s something hypocritical about being grossed out by a material I regularly use, but even Ledig herself validates the cognitive dissonance.
Leather is dead animal skin. This is perhaps the raw reason behind the human fascination with it. It is beautiful, precious and grotesque at the same time. We sometimes forget that touching leather is to handle a former living being’s hide. Most leather is processed to the point of becoming unrecognizable as what it is and this contributes to a general attitude, which I chose to question in this project.
I took those body parts not normally used in leather goods, as the cow’s head, tail or lower leg and turned them into leather, highlighting their natural forms and textures. These parts would normally be discarded within the process or be processed further into an unrecognizable animal ingredient.
This is a statement about luxury—it’s a privilege to ignore “how the sausage is made,” so to speak. We’re as far removed from the labor of our leather as we are the labor of our food, and since both tannery and butchery are now mainly performed in far-off, industrial settings, we can conveniently forget about the animals involved. Don’t get me wrong, I’m not going to stop carrying and wearing leather—while I like my art to be gross and discomfiting, I also like my purses sans face.