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Fashion (MA)

Sofía Sánchez

When I arrived at the RCA in 2021, I was a lingerie designer, having just graduated from BA Fashion Contour at London College of Fashion. My time at the RCA has been experimental, challenging and transformative; in my first year I found performance and text-based artwork as mediums suited to the political nature of my work: ‘The body is the ultimate site of resistance in everyday struggles for power.’ [Tyan, 2015]

At the end of 2022, I began writing fiction in order to untangle a knot around femininity and monstrosity. My writing explores the space between language and the body, and is influenced by feminist, queer and psychoanalytic theories. I am interested in the materiality and sensuality of language, and see my work as a critical commentary on the politics of desire, gender and sexuality. I have found writing to be a place where I am free, and a place where I become myself - where I am limited only by imagination. Through this practice I try to understand the relationship between myself and the world, to make a reclamation of a body that was never my own.

I would like to thank Adina Salome for her photography, and Rebecca Kirchmeier and Caroline Dubois, perfumers at International Flavors and Fragrances Inc. for their creation of a perfume, by interpreting my writing into scent. I continue postgraduate study at the University of Cambridge next year to further explore fictional writing and performance.

Profile image in different colours - playing with light and transparency

There is a striking similarity between writing a thriller and doing fashion design. In writing this story, I write two timelines: the one that the audience sees, and the one that I, as the author, know. The process of planning this story is a process of deciding what to reveal to the audience at which point, in order to create tension, excitement, suspense - a hook. I understand my work as a lingerie designer to be much the same practice: a practice of deciding what to reveal and conceal, of exploring what is closest to the skin, what is underneath - hidden. A mystery is much the same, it explores underbellies, secrets, places where the sun doesn’t shine. Writing this story is another way of writing the body. 

The Hole retells the story of the Nine Daughters’ Hole in BallyBunion, Co. Kerry, Ireland. This geographical site has a legend attached to it, part of the local folklore. The legend goes like this:

In the year 800, Chieftan O’Connor presided over a settlement on the coast, and owned nine daughters,  who he had the pick of for wives. One day, a Viking longship crossed the horizon, planning to invade Chiefan O’Connor’s settlement. The nine daughters saw the Viking longships and dreamt of escaping - they planned to elope with the Vikings. O’Connor found out about the daughters’ plans and played a trick on them to punish them for their disloyalty. He told them that he had lost his flaming torch at the bottom of a hole by the cliff edge. He told them to form a human rope down into the hole to fetch it - and pushed them down to their deaths when they did so. 

The legend of the Nine Daughter’s Hole is a story about a chieftain enacting revenge on these women for threatening his power and masculinity. My story is about her ‘biting back’ - quite literally, this is a vampire story about one of the daughters who has been reincarnated as Evelin. In the original legend, women are owned as property, and subsequently murdered for having desires of their own. It is also a story about how desire and sexuality are forces that threaten stability and civilisation: acting as undertows, or undercurrents, that are at times out of control and violent. 

It retells the original legend as a supernatural vampire thriller in the present day. It is a story about a mute vampire, Evelin, who’s thirst for blood is tied up with her inability to speak. When she drinks her victim’s blood, she drinks, too, their words. She has the temporary sensation of having a voice. [continued below]

Today, the logic of misogyny is inscribed into our landscape, through, myth, legend, lore, language - through names. How can we rewrite this story? I rewrite this story for the nine daughters, for every woman who was ever punished for her desire, who has acted as a foil, a backdrop, to pick up his flaming torch from a hole.  Katherine Angel comments on women, consent culture and female sexuality in contemporary culture, highlighting the real implications of the ways in which women’s desire is policed, punished and repressed:

“women are explicitly or implicitly asked to have a confident subjectivity -  an assertive relationship to sex, which denies the fact that women’s confident expression of sexual desire is precisely what comes back to haunt them in the courtroom - we live in a sexual culture that makes it hard for women to find out what their desire is, given the punishment, the shaming, the retaliation”

This text dramatises three approaches to a Hole: Evelin, a vampire, Chris, a priest, and Nola, an intersex investigator. The Hole tells the story of their conflict and resolution. The story is mainly told from Nola’s perspective, who finds Jack’s body in 2024. It recounts Evelin’s condition as a mute vampire, her entrapment and punishment; and her eventual emancipation and rebirth through solidarity, through finding a voice, through a connection to grief and loss.

Evelin’s story is about distance and proximity, about the dance around intimacy, about love and pain, hunger, desire, sexuality, guilt and shame. The work of this story is to untangle a knot around love being tied up with pain and violence, to find a way towards tenderness and care. It is a narrative that enacts a shifting perspective on monstrosity and feminine desire, that arrives at a rebirth of our main character beyond the trope of the vamp, beyond normative practices of feminine gender and sexuality, towards something between, beyond, outside - a sexuality defined by vulnerability, pleasure, in-betweenness, openness. It is a story, too, about how the patriarchal nature of ‘law and order’ so often abuses marginalised groups.

When I write this story, I imagine it in body positions and movements - sensations, images, settings. I make artefacts in material from the writing, primarily in silver. Fashion and language here act each as their own skin. The contents of this writing is a plan for a story which could be told as a theatre play, screenplay, a dance or a film. I have interpreted the essential message of the plot into a children’s story called ‘The Word Gobbler’.

To conclude, The Hole is a fantasy fiction text that offers an invitation into an alternative universe with its own laws of nature. It presents a challenge to the reader via a box that cannot be opened, with a riddle inscribed on its sides. Its ultimate question: who am I? 

‘You only have to look at the Medusa straight on to see her. She’s beautiful, and she’s laughing.’ [Cixous, 1976]

The Cost of FemininityPresented on receipt paper, this poem explores the price paid for rigidity within traditional gender roles and practices.
Performative un/dressing: Where does the internal world stop and the external world begin? I was thinking about how the cloth reads as a text, how writing is like a skin - how the skin is a boundary between the inside and out, a site of play in fashion.
The Nine Daughter's Hole, Co. Kerry, Ireland.

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‘One can be silenced and silence in numerous different ways ... You can put words in her mouth. You can stuff her mouth and cheeks full of deferential platitudes. You can threaten to make her eat certain words that she might say against her testifying or so much as recognizing what is happening to her and others. You can stonewall, and make her utterance doomed to fail, less than hollow... You can train her not to say strangle, but rather choke, or better yet grab, or best of all, nothing. It was nothing: nothing happened.’ [Manne, 2017]


‘although the specific nature of the border changes from film to film, the function of the monster remains the same - to bring about an encounter between the symbolic order and that which threatens stability - the monster is produced at the border between human and inhuman, man and beast...normal and supernatural, good and evil...the border between those who take up their proper gender roles and those who do not..’ [Creed, 1993]

A puzzle box is offered to Nola by a jester in a dream at the beginning of the story. At the end, the box is opened, and inside are the teeth of Evelin's sisters who she had lost in the original legend. The teeth are covered in the scent of their togetherness - a reading is shown above.

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Evelin covers her body in silver milk teeth: silver acting as an antidote to the vampire, the teeth of her sisters representing a loss. The object writes loss and desire onto the skin.


“How can I speak to you? You remain in flux, never congealing or solidifying. What will make that current flow into words? It is multiple, devoid of causes, meanings, simple qualities. Yet it cannot be decomposed. These movements cannot be described as the passage from a beginning to an end. These rivers flow into no single, definitive sea. These streams are without fixed banks, this body without fixed boundaries. This unceasing mobility, This life - which will perhaps be called our restlessness, whims, pretenses or lies. All this remains very strange to anyone claiming to stand on solid ground.

Speak, all the same. Between us, “hardness” isn’t necessary. We know the contours of our bodies well enough to love fluidity” [Irigaray, 1985]


[1] Irigaray, This Sex Which is Not One, 210.

[2] Tynan, “Fashioning the body politic”, 197.

[3] Cixous, “The Laugh of the Medusa”, 885.

[4] Angel, podcast.

[5] Kate Manne, Down Girl: The Logic of Misogyny, 3. 

[6] Creed, The Monstrous-feminine: Film, Feminism, Psychoanalysis, 11.

[7] Irigaray, This Sex Which is Not One, 215.


Angel, Katherine. "Vulnerability with Katherine Angel". Literary Friction. Available at <>

Cixous, Hélène, Keith Cohen, and Paula Cohen. “The Laugh of the Medusa.” Signs: Journal of women in culture and society 1, no. 4 (1976): 875-893.

Creed, Barbara. The Monstrous-feminine: Film, Feminism, Psychoanalysis. Psychology Press, 1993.

Irigaray, Luce. This Sex Which Is Not One . Cornell University Press, 1985.

Manne, Kate. Down Girl: The Logic of Misogyny. Oxford University Press, 2017.

Tynan, Jane. “Fashioning the body politic.” Thinking through fashion: A Guide to key theorists (2015).