Steventai returns this season with his recurring muse character, the nerd in pale pastel blouses, smiling or perhaps yawning in the corner. We were first introduced to this character in 2011 during Steven’s graduation show. In Steven’s world she’s got the brainy small-town charm of pre-Beast Belle, as well as the geeky pride of a bespectacled Margaret Hamilton, standing in 1969 next to a pile of printed code almost as tall as she is. She’s an old-school intellectual with a sense of humour, an obstinate optimist with a paperback tucked into her high-waist trousers.
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She now returns with a refreshed and more cultured look. Take a look at the papery texture given by panels of fabric layered one upon the other like pages of a book, is reissued in lighter organza, patiently hand-cut on bias, then folded with zig-zag stitching across all hems, as painstakingly long a process as it sounds. Or a range of items are assembled without seams, all woven together from squares of net, with a tiny cotton ribbon. A sense of ingenious innocence runs throughout, of pre-digital curiosity: like how the punch cards of the jacquard loom were conceptual precursor to the development of computer programming, steventai’s collection is meticulous, cerebral, and oddly poetic.