Collars – we’ve all got them. We bet you’re wearing one right now. But have you ever thought about the historical context of the specific kind of collar you’re wearing, or the emotion it could evoke? When it came to choosing a topic to spend a whole year researching and producing work on for her diploma, it was this neck-adorning accessory which caught graphic designer Margot Lévêque’s attention. The result is a publication entitled Mysterium Conjunctionis which unpacks the myriad forms of the collar, be it a ruffle, a Peter Pan or a turtleneck.
“Since I was child, I’ve been obsessed with collars,” Margot tells It’s Nice That, somewhat unexpectedly. This niche proclivity starts to make sense, however, as she describes “my grandmother was seamstress, my mum has several clothing stores, and I have always been immersed in the world of fashion since childhood.” On why the collar has always captivated her so much and the not the pleat or hemline, for example, she explains: “It can mean a lot of things about an individual’s identity. A woman wearing a turtleneck jumper doesn’t say the same things as a woman wearing a tailored collar. This subject always fascinated me.”
In order to turn this topic into a publication finished with Margot’s signature elegant, typographically-led graphic design, she began by choosing a selection of collars that she likes the most. “For each collar,” she explains, “I linked them with an emotion. For example, the Peter Pan collar (Col Claudine in French) is combined with shyness. This represents only my point of view and a subjective view of it.”
These emotions are then categorised, starting with the positive and ending with those most typically associated with being negative – a spectrum which then provides to flow of content for the book. Accompanying each section, which are all dedicated to one specific collar, are texts set according to a strict grid system: “one set in italic for emotional content, the other set in lineal for purely informative and historical content on the collar itself.” This formatting allows readers to understand both the historical and sociological context of the accessory, getting different information upon each reading. “For each collar, I also drew patterns so that people can sew the collar themselves if they want,” Margot adds.
The final element of the publication takes a philosophical stance on the collar. As an accessory worn around the neck, Margot focussed an area of her research on the metaphysical associations of this part of the body. “The neck represents life: we breathe, we eat, we shout, we lose our voice, we suffocate… The neck is the biggest lodge of emotions,” she explains. As a nod to the spectrum of emotions running throughout the book, but also this concept of life, the final collar featured is the Spanish collar which, aesthetically, “slices the throat," Margot describes. To further represent the collar’s intrinsic link with the cycle of life, Margot replaced the word – which should have appeared 396 times – with the infinity symbol.
Mysterium Conjunctionis’ cover and spine are suitably decorative for a publication dedicated to the particularities of one element of clothing, featuring a cursive serif font and a binding produced by hand by Reliure Houdart. On these elements, Margot concludes: “I took all the pictograms of my sewing machine to design the book’s spine! For the cover, I designed the custom lettering and the typeface I used for the title is Romie, which I designed this year.”
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