The “Ms. Charm’s Chic tradition” continues with sharing the fashion story of recent MICA, Maryland Institute College of Art, graduate. Some alumni featured on Ms. Charm’s Chic include: Erin Sudeck, Jordan Matthews, Christy Chong and Skylar Wilson to name a few.
I am happy to add Aqeel Malcolm to this list.
“I’m fascinated by the link between fashion and identity,” Malcolm said. There is a tremendous amount of history and culture embedded in textiles and fashion, and there have always been a relationship between fabric, clothing, and the human body. Before I discovered my love for Fiber art, I use to be an Illustration major. My first class as a freshman at MICA was Intro to Illustration, and while in that class I immediately knew illustration was not meant for me. So I dropped the course and enrolled into Intro to Fiber instead and absolutely enjoyed it! That’s when my interest in art pertaining to the body began. I changed my major to Fiber with a studio concentration in Experimental Fashion. Not only was I taught how to pattern and construct garments, but I learned other processes that have allowed me to create the type of work I make today.”
At MEDIUMRARE during MICA Fashion Week this year, Malcolm showcased a unforgettable collection that turned hair into a wearable garment.
“Fringe, my collection from MEDIUMRARE, was inspired by the barbershop,” Malcolm said. I’ve began weaving fabric with hair one year before I created this line and I wanted to further explore the connection between hair and masculinity. I used the barbershop as inspiration because it is a space created specifically for male grooming but it’s also a space for men to interact with each other. Growing up, I’ve experienced a lack of intimacy between me and the men in my family and that is why I wanted to investigate how masculinity is construed today. Hair comes in many textures and colors. Whether kinky, curly, straight, or wavy, hair is a material many humans experience. Hair acts as a metaphor for intimacy and connectivity.”
How would you describe your experience within MICA’s Fibers program?
“There’s no doubt that my experience within MICA’s Fiber Department was incredible,” Malcolm said. I’m going to miss the resources and tools that are available in the department, and at the school. Also, It was fun seeing the many approaches, ideas, and styles from each artist in the community. Many of my peers were so driven and each person had a clear vision for their work. Everyone, both faculty and students, were supportive of each other. I’ve made connections and friendships that I believe will last a lifetime.”
What has been your favorite class you have taken at MICA? Why?
It’s difficult to chose only one! Most of the courses I’ve taken at MICA have been very valuable. During my freshman year I took Intro to Fiber with Valeska Populoh and that was when I realized I wanted to make work relating to identity. In Intro to Fiber we were introduced to weaving, sewing, screen-printing, knitting, crocheting, basketry, dyeing, and more. During my sophomore year, I took both Surface Resist Dyeing with Chrissy Day and Garment Design and Production with Melanie Lester in the fall semester. I think these two classes were the most valuable for the kind of work I’m interested in making. However, Woven Imagery with Mary Smull was perhaps my favorite class since weaving is my primary focus in my studio practice. I enjoy building fabric from scratch and controlling every thread in the process.
How has your garment design skill evolve over the years? What was the first garment you made?
“Considering that I’ve never sewn or designed garments before coming to MICA, I think my garment design and construction skills have improved tremendously during my years as a student,” Malcolm said. The very first garment I made was a short-sleeve button-down men’s shirt. I used silk organza, black felt, and lace fabric. I screen printed barcodes onto a sheer silk organza material, so when the barcodes were scanned with a smartphone or scanner it would read “Masculinity.” It’s uncommon to see shear, or revealing, fabrics such as lace and silk organza used in menswear. I wanted to challenge our perception of what’s trendy, or acceptable, for a man to wear. It was such a strange combination of fabric but I really believe this was the starting point for me as an artist and designer. I’m definitely going to revisit it and try to push it even further.”
What are your plans for your future after you graduate from MICA?
“I graduated from MICA on May 18,” Malcolm said. I will be interning at Kova Textiles in New York City this summer until August. I’m continuing to experiment with weaving techniques on the loom while also building my portfolio. Eventually, I’m going to apply to artist residencies and possibly go back to school for a MFA in Textiles, Fiber, or Material Studies in the future. For now, I’m focusing on networking and finding other opportunities to showcase my work, and of course I’m looking for a job. I plan to stay in Baltimore for at least another year before I venture off.”