This tender relationship manifested into ‘Identitat’, Armata’s final MA collection. “When you speak two languages, a lot of the time in one language there’s a term that’s missing from the vocabulary, so you make it up. I took an English word and made it sound more Polish.” While pragmatic in approach, from tailored suits, fleece waistcoats and pleated ankle-length skirts, Armata pays tribute to her ancestors through intricate doodles, achieved by posca pens and embroidery, on crisp white shirts. “I came across a book where someone had decorated in a particular way with lines that weren’t perfectly straight and it caught my eye. Then that summer before my MA started, my dad and I went to visit my grandparents farm in Poland. I’d taken a ton of photos and then I ended up using little logos and images from the photos. I just opened up my phone and started doodling them. It was by accident really, but then I started adding lots of personal references of things my parents would say to me like ‘don’t make me angry’ in a jokey voice, and all of our private jokes.” Purposefully using the cheapest materials possible, for the reflection of quality over cost, Armata fostered a collection that was ‘innocent and authentic’, reflecting the temperament of the times, where clothing was functional and low priority, rather than expressive and desired.
Spanning old-school Eastern European traditions and a liberal Canada, Western references surface through the inclusion of the ‘Canadian tuxedo’ – a colloquial term for a denim-on-denim suit – to reversed dresses where the seam falls on the front of the garment, “a reference to the Amish community in Canada that I’d often run into in Walmart.” While her Western influences are astute, Armata wanted her Polish heritage to take precedence, “It’s the amusement behind it, or the respect rather. It’s just such a different approach to dressing,” she shares. Yet, in the early development of Armata’s toiles resulted in a sequence of mistakes turned to miracles. “Things would shift awkwardly, I’d cut something on the wrong grain. For instance, the tailored jacket was made almost completely by mistake. I didn’t have a facing on the inside so the lining was bagging out like a balloon because I mismeasured it. Something that looked so horrible became incredibly interesting.”