Two years ago, Aaron Wayne McPolin was driving down from Albany after some deserved time off from the persistent demands of working in the field of one of his main passions. He was on his way to meet with his long time friend and mentor, Ruth Tarvydas, to discuss their next project together that was going to take the pair to new heights. It was here, while he was driving that he received the news of his good friend’s tragic passing. Tarvydas was an Australian icon and a personal friend to many. She was and remains an inspiration to the global fashion community.
“Memento Mori is the inspiration,” McPolin tells Avenoir, “Begin the Fall is the title, preparing to start the pain of loss.” One year after her passing, Aaron decided it was time to really begin the grieving process and come to terms with the notion that this woman who had such an impact on his life and career was no longer here. “She gave me a good start and foothold into the fashion world,” said Aaron, “and was the first designer to free the reigns and trust me to be creative in my own way.”
“The weeks following [her death] were surrounded by tabloids and media reports.” McPolin recalled. “It was only a year later on the anniversary of her passing [that] I decided to do a personal tribute and goodbye. It didn’t feel right to leave the door open, having concepts and ideas we had discussed together and to never create them,” he said.
Memento Mori, a Latin expression meaning plainly ‘remember death’ or ‘remember that you will die’ – “taking a momento to remember”. The symbols employed in this shoot evoked the idea of death and passing while highlighting how temperamental life and death can be. Objects explored include tied bows (believed to stop spirits escaping), and mirrors (seen being covered in the shots as they have been said to trap souls when uncovered). McPolin explained the other symbols used within the shot included “hair lockets, jars of tears, photos with the deceased, the deceased displayed as alive and on show for last goodbyes,” he tells of his reasons for employing these devices. “The burning of sage,” he continues, “and other flowers to help ward off bad spirits and aid the passing into the next life.”
Some may have believe the concept and visual attributes of this shoot to be dark and melancholic. However, therein lie its beauty and its force. “I guess this series to me is not only a goodbye, but a reminder of her and also our own view of futility towards death.”