Harald Lunde Helgesen - Crystal Farmers

It takes days to get from the smuggler city to the wind-blasted mountains where the crystal farmers dwell near a huge network of mineshafts. Down below, it gets hotter and the pressure rises. It is hazardous to reach the luminescent fields of crystal in the deepest caves. The farmers harvest the precious raw material: this is all they have to trade.

Their subterranean work clothes show the influence of both local village culture and the distant metropolis. The inner layer is homemade high-tech—tight and elastic, suitable for swimming through flooded tunnels or squeezing through crevices. The middle layer was once bright urban denim brought back from the markets. But the original sheen has slowly faded away to the dull, worn-out texture of the everyday. A handcrafted, coat completes the outfit. As they descend, the farmers leave the outer garments behind to collect on the way back. But sometimes one never returns. If his coat is found it becomes an heirloom.

In his new collection Harald Lunde Helgesen, 2009 winner of the Crystallized Swarovski Elements Prize, imagines a hidden story of danger and endurance expressed in rough but intricate clothing that fuses functionality and tradition.