For math and honors studio art major and ballet dancer Emmeline Wolf ’22, the beginning of the COVID-19 lockdown this spring meant a loss of the arts activities and dance rehearsals that had anchored her hectic weeks at school, as well as the Ireland painting residency and Bard College fashion marketing program she was to complete in the summer. But she knew that for professional artists, the lockdown had more serious consequences: the loss of their livelihoods.
To address both of these losses, Wolf, a native of Los Angeles, Calif., created fashion brand Le Corps/The Body, an original line of printed and upcycled clothing. The brand donates 25% of the price of each sale to the Foundation for Contemporary Arts Emergency Grants COVID-19 Fund, and since creating the brand in June, Wolf has met her goal of donating a full $2,000 relief grant to the fund.
According to Wolf, an exhibit of Michelangelo’s drawings at the Getty in Los Angeles inspired her to put paintings of figures on each item. She used an L.A.-based sustainable clothing agency to create printed items and dug through closets of family members and friends to find vintage clothing she could paint.
However, what Wolf says she enjoyed even more than creating these items — and what surprised her about the process — was creating a community during an isolating lockdown. Wolf showcased the work of fellow artists on the brand’s Facebook and Instagram pages and asked a variety of people around her to model her clothing: cousin, brother, grandmother, friends, friends’ parents, even a figure made of sticks.
Swarthmore students feature prominently among these collaborators, including VERAH, the music act of Veronica Yabloko ’22, who performed live on Le Corps’ Facebook and Instagram pages. Wolf also raised $125 for the Philadelphia Fringe Festival, held remotely this fall, in a collaboration with fashion blogger Cassandra Stone ’20.
“When I started, obviously I was feeling a lack of funding in the arts and a loss of community,” Wolf says, “but I don’t think I realized how important it was for me to rebuild that community and even create new ones.”
As she takes remote classes from a Philadelphia apartment this semester, Wolf has continued to maintain the business and look for more opportunities to pursue a career in fashion marketing.