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The Story of Darker than

Explore the following words, art direction and designs all by Tanmay Saxena, designer & filmmaker, who crafts sustainable, handmade clothes. 'Darker than' is Tanmay's collection of handmade clothes inspired by his response to the changing landscape and light of Seven Sisters in East Sussex.

“The deep stare into each other’s eyes lasts no more than a handful of seconds. But a lot is said and agreed where words had failed marvelously all along. He slowly and blindly starts stepping back, only held in safety by the tautness of the string unraveling from their spool. Assume the spool to be an inanimate object at your own risk, for it too seems to be uneasily relieved as the layers come off it. It spins, thins and gets lighter. She feels the lightness travelling into her fingers. He stops when the distance of a few feet between them seems safe enough. Life flashes in front of the eyes in monochrome. He jumps and hurls their kite upwards. She starts to tug and jut at the string and helps it fly away.”

Dusk and dawn at these cliffs seem like two forlorn lovers from prehistoric times looking for each other, but never able to meet. The dawn arrives. She takes a seat across the watery edge of the triangle and sits up crisply, looking cherubic and eager, patient there for a while. An hour later, she starts to stretch her limbs onto the sea. The sea surface resembles an endless sheet of glass that is breathing. The sky peers down into this mirror and settles down resembling the sea. More hours pass. Such painful lack of coordination between the two lovers. In her longing for him, she begins to look like him. Sky is deeper than before. Like a gorge now, but upside-down, a huge piece of charcoal soaked in red. The endless mirror that the sea was has darkened and aged. Dawn finally gives up, leaves without looking over her shoulder. Leaves looking like dusk. She disappears. Moments later he arrives. Dusk.

These Seven Sisters are a sight to behold, but I feel they will not let you. Their panorama is too vast for the eye or the heart. I am not sure if the images came to me first, strewn around with no story to string them together. Or was it the story that came, so quietly, so coyly, that the stock of images it brought along went unnoticed initially. ‘Darker than’, I always knew was going to perform like an act on these hills. It is hard to find a place such as this one, within the realms of physical dimensions where the jagged edges of land and the ocean and the sky lay abreast, melting into each other. It is hard to tell what starts where and what ends. ‘Darker than’ was a chance for me to experiment with black. I had not explored it before. By the end, for me black came to have a special reverence. While conceptualizing and designing the collection, I realised black is more than a colour. It is more mental than physical. It is not ephemeral. Quite naturally, the tone and the mood of the collection sways towards darkness. I wanted it to be dark. But when I asked myself, ‘darker than what?’ I could not come up with a single entity or an umbrella of darkness to provide a measure against. And at that moment I realized darkness, like any other emotion, is subjective. This title was not for me alone to complete. So go ahead and visit or revisit the collection; the images, the film or the clothes and their silhouettes. Find out what it is darker than for you.

Words & Styling by Tanmay Saxena | @lanefortyfive

Photographs by Bjorn Franklin | @bjornfranklin


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