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By definition, bliss is a state of “perfect happiness, where one is oblivious to everything else”. The price tag on this kind of euphoria is as pompous as it is hefty: customarily designated as blissful are the joys of nuclear matrimony, the promised atonement of godly afterlife, and ignorance. Yet most sublime are the banal pleasures that lie beneath the bounds of lofty ideas — an ice cold beer on a hot day, a breeze of fresh air bursting through a stuffy room, sleeping well for once, and waking up to the sun kissing your skin, kissing your friends more, snort laughing as tears well up, each and every brief moment of genuine connection.

Operating as Baby Reni, Irene Ha metabolises bliss not as obliviousness, but as hypersensitivity to relentless input of information; a fullness with everything at once. At the foundation of her artistic macrocosm is her own bedroom. Feeling alienated from the categorical expectations of cultural dichotomies, she takes shelter within her own four walls and turns to the digital realm, where all events have long become equal. Why be anywhere when you could be everywhere? If the personal is political, then the intimacy of the mundane might just be the most dynamic stage for making one’s dilemmas social. The problem is, the world is the problem. In Baby Reni’s universe, a lingering unease with the double bind of rabid globalization is reappropriated into a community playground, where contradictions become a cause for celebration. Working closely with collaborators both intimate and strange — confidants, artisans, graphic designers, neighbours, meme sharers, factory workers — she seeks to subvert the traditional fashion model of producer vs consumer. Offered in its place is an expansive heterotopia, a special pocket of refuge that grows not outside but within existing structures, at once deeply personal and interdependent with its many authorships — a cluttered desktop. 
For her debut fashion show, Baby Reni doubles down on the fascination with exhibitionist domesticity. An embarrassing moment becomes a luxury item — a glass nose ring resembling a snot bubble. More lounge than streetwear (and too deliberately white for reckless inner city posturing anyway), the acetone printed hoodies recycle previous works into wearable memories. Lavish pyjama sets, in turn, are made borderline ceremonial, stamped with motivational texts and infuriated emojis. Áo dài — a traditional Vietnamese tunic that is customarily crafter out of silk, and worn on special occasions — is constructed of synthetic fabric with a loud print reminiscent of raver attire. Authenticity is asserted thought a pre-emptive self-bootleg: unable to share a scarf that was commissioned exclusively by and for Gementee Amsterdam with her usual circle, Reni pirates her own design until it gains a new legibility. Notably almost none of the garments feature proper closures. Always ongoing, the work of finding bliss is a matter of opening up towards the richness of life’s discrepancies; like refuge, bliss is never granted, but nurtured tenderly, and by many unseen hands.

Text by Masha Ryabova


4th of June

A fashion show by baby reni
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