Tuesday, 28 May 2019

Interview: Couturier Guo Pei's Art of Fashion

One of Guo Pei's highly structured creations inspired by Gothic architecture for her Fall 2018 haute collection collection held at Paris'  Cité de l’Architecture. Photograph (above) from the Spring 2018 show, by Elli Ioannou.

Couturier Guo Pei's rise and rise continues with a new documentary film about her life, Yellow is Forbidden, that premiered at New York's Tribeca Film Festival. We take a look back at her most recent dramatic couture shows, before the new collection is launched in Paris next month. Jeanne-Marie Cilento talks to the designer about her life and work. Additional reporting and photography by Elli Ioannou. Interview translated from the Mandarin by Ella Palermo Patera

Designer Guo Pei at her Fall 2018
 couture show in Paris
ELFIN and charming, Guo Pei exudes a light, effusive energy and speaks in a soft, lilting voice that belies the grit that has taken her from Beijing's Second Light Industry School in Maoist China to the top of the Paris world of haute couture today. She started her career when fashion was at its very infancy in China but worked her way to the heart of  European couture as the first Chinese designer to be invited to become a guest member of Paris' Chambre Syndicale de la Haute Couture.

The dramatic, yellow caped concoction that Rihanna wore to New York's Met ball three years ago brought her to the attention of the world, beyond the rarefied circle of high fashion. Guo Pei's work stands out each season in Paris as her collections are all imbued with a poetic vision that may be inspired by Gothic architecture or the sheen on a ball of antique golden thread.

There is a superlative intricacy to her designs and a virtuosity that even exceeds the expectations of Parisian haute couture. While big brands are making their couture collections more wearable, Gup Pei's are all about creating mystery and magic with teetering headdresses and heels and dresses with wide panniers. Her collections are about art and ideas not selling clothes.

There is a superlative intricacy to Guo Pei's designs and a virtuosity that even exceeds the expectations of Parisian haute couture

 Like a domed cupola, an evocative
 and complex dress from Fall 2018
"Haute couture is my favourite," Guo Pei says. "It is not made for commercial gain, but more for a kind of inner quest, a satisfaction of our spiritual being. It is not like building a brand and making commercial designs.

"I think the pursuit of humankind gradually evolves from the practical to the spiritual realm. When people talk about haute couture, it’s not about the form but a kind of inner spirit. This passion comes from being able to manifest yourself, to express yourself. "

Guo Pei began as the only designer making high fashion clothes in China when it was against Communist ideology and yet now she has a large atelier in Beijing with teams of artisans who do the extraordinary hand work her gowns demand, some taking years to finish.

Her creations are brought to life directly from her imagination and she can allow her collections to take flights of fancy knowing that the skills of her team can bring them to life. She sees her couture designs in terms of art works rather than utilitarian pieces to wear.

"Haute couture is not made for commercial gain, but more for a kind of inner quest, a satisfaction of our spiritual being"

"I think when creating art, in order to put your love and emotion into your work, you really need to have a devoted attitude," the designer says. "Art is not a means or method of pursuing self-interests, it is more about sharing, about disseminating a kind of influence amongst human beings. So I really hope my work can influence people, can influence this world. The recognition I have today, I think it is more importantly due to my work.

Reflections of a gilded
gown from Spring 2018
"In society now, a lot of designers and artists work on their personal branding and deliberately market themselves, but I think all of this must be founded on your work. To be honest, I myself am not very good at networking, and personally I feel that I’m not very good at facing society in those terms.

"A designer or an artist can maintain their influence for a long time based on their work, not based on their personal branding. I enjoy focusing on my creations and they carry with them genuine emotion, love and something that is very real, and I believe people are attracted to these qualities."

Gothic architecture, the opulence of ancient China, Nature's growing plants, roots and flowers and the beauty of rare materials are just some of the inspirations for Guo Pei's haute couture shows in Paris. The artisanal work and skill that goes into the gowns are unusual even in the world of couture, some of the sequining can take several years to complete in her Beijing atelier. Guo Pei's palette of brilliant, glistening colours often includes Royal blues, electric reds and shimmering silver and gold ~ the colour she believes represents the soul.

 "I think when creating art, in order to put your love and emotion into your work, you really need to have a devoted attitude"

She designs couture that is all made to order and is completed by hand as well. Each piece has an unusual attention to detail and her atelier uses traditional talismans of good luck and longevity in her embroidery, such as the symbol of the dragon, butterfly and phoenix. The designers draws from her own cultural heritage combined with influences from 1920s and 1950s Western haute couture. Contemporary yet luxurious gowns are Pei's signature.

Flowers and growing plants were the inspiration
for the Spring 2018 collection
"I am the first designer in China to start making evening gowns, high fashion and haute couture," she comments. " I think I have been very fortunate, because the Chinese often have a saying that goes, 'the times create heroes'. Sometimes, you might not be able to build your whole life based on talent alone. It has been my fortune to have been born into a very good era."

Although now based in Paris, Pei was born in Beijing and studied fashion there, graduating in 1986. Three years later, she had become a senior designer at one of city's independently owned clothing companies, leaving in 1997 to set up her own fashion brand with her husband, textile magnate Jack Tsao. Pei's fashion style is still influenced by designs from the traditional Chinese imperial court and many luxurious pieces in her collection are made using silk, fur and embroidery.

Before she came to Paris, Guo Pei's work included fashion collections in Beijing and designs for the closing ceremony of the 2008 Summer Olympics where she designed the dress worn by Song Zuying during her duet with Plácido Domingo. The dress had 200,000 Swarovski crystals hand-sewn into the white gown. Pei has also done costume design for the film The Monkey King which was nominated for a Hong Kong Film Award. Pei’s works have exhibited around the world including at the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York and the National Gallery of Victoria in Melbourne.
 "In today’s society, a lot of designers and artists work on their personal branding and deliberately market themselves, but all of this must be founded on your work"

Made entirely of bamboo, a creation from Spring 2018
made by artisans from Huangshan in Anhui, China,  
"I have been working in the Chinese fashion design industry for almost 30 years, which has only really matured during that time,'' says Guo Pei. "Entering into the fashion industry in China felt like a natural thing to me, because my early experience was also at the birth of Chinese fashion. I’ve seen a lot, from when I first started studying fashion design when nobody really knew what fashion design was, to after I graduated when so-called “brands” first started to emerge in China, which was very vague as a concept. When the masses started to follow fashion and follow trends, a lot of people on the street at that time were wearing the same clothes, because they thought that being fashionable meant being the same as everybody else."
One of Guo Pei's outstanding collections was Legend that went on to be exhibited around the world including at the National Gallery in Melbourne. The designer chose the stony glory of Paris' Conciergerie as the backdrop to the Spring/Summer 2017 show because of its medieval history and connection to mythical kings and queens. If haute couture is about imagination, fantasy and exploring the realms between fashion, art and theatre, this ebullient show in Paris embodied it all. Her opulent collection made a strong contrast to Paris Couture Week's other pragmatic presentations that were more like ready-to-wear.

The brilliant woven gold fabric that Guo Pei used in
her extraordinary Spring 2017 Legend show
The enthralling collection was held in a French Gothic palace imbued with a richness and magic that only two years work and 500 artisans can bring to fruition. The Legend collection was originally inspired by a trip that Guo Pei took when she visited the Swiss town of St. Gallen, well know for its embroidery and specialist fabric workshops. She was there to meet textile manufacturer Jakob Schlaepfer's art director Martin Leuthold.

He took her to visit the town's cathedral where she became so engrossed with the paintings of the frescoed dome and the brilliant gold of the interior, she missed her plane. This turned out to be the inspiration for the Paris collection including using the cathedral's archive of medieval architectural drawings to create the printed silks. Afterwards she worked closely with Leuthold to create gleaming woven gold fabric from metal fibre and silk thread.

"For this collection that was later shown at the NGV in Melbourne, a lot of people thought that the pieces in the collection are no longer clothes that are wearable but they invoke thought and emotion in people," the designer says. "So for this collection I’m not so much a designer as an artist, which makes me very happy, because I believe art is humankind’s language that has no borders.

"For this collection I’m not so much a designer as an artist, which makes me very happy, because I believe art is humankind’s language that has no borders"

A bejewelled and embroidery encrusted
creation from the Paris Spring 2017
Legend show
"Art can really make everyone think and make everyone feel something, and through art everyone can find a sense of belonging for the soul. Art is everlasting and never dies. So, when we are designing clothes, if we can turn the clothes into a representation of the times, of abundant emotions and of love, so that they become a spiritual sustenance, I think that is really the ultimate pursuit."

Guo Pei created a show imbued with a richness and opulence, especially the extraordinarily elaborate embroidery and bead work. She wanted to return to her design roots, making fashion more about art and ideas. She wanted the Legend collection to be a metaphor for the spirit of devotion and power of faith embodied in ancient architecture and hand-crafted design through the forms of medieval warriors, saints and goddesses.

Models wearing gold-encrusted gowns like monarchs and silvery ecclesiastical creations slowly made their way along the runway in Paris. There were tightly-laced, patterned bodices, billowing sleeves and bejewelled crosses. Crowns and crystal orbs above long, windswept hair completed the image of magnificent medieval queens.

"If we can turn designing clothes into a representation of our times, of abundant emotions and of love, so that they become a spiritual sustenance, I think that is really the ultimate pursuit"

"It was more than a year ago, when the director of the NGV contacted me about showing Legend at the Triennial exhibition, a comprehensive art exhibition bringing together the works of almost 100 artists from dozens of different countries around the world," explains Guo Pei. "I was really overjoyed, because I felt like I was no longer a designer but had become an artist. The reason I selected pieces from this collection is because it has a special significance for me. It is a summary of the 30 years of my career, and the 20 years that I have been working on this brand. "

"That collection was more complete; it is like a peak or a summary after I have grown to a certain stage," she comments today. "You can say that it is a complete reflection of my life, my ideological realm and my values over these 30 years. I called it “Legend” because I wanted it to invoke thought in a lot of people. From borrowing inspiration from the churches, to my decision to showcase the entire collection at an ancient Parisian prison, to Marie Antoinette, and even to my choice of featuring Carmen Dell'Orefice, an 87-year-old model, all of this is trying to convey a sense of devotion."

Three dimensional flowers and
crystalline platform shoes
Spring 2018
For her next and fifth Parisian show, Guo Pei's presented the collection at the Cirque d’Hiver Bouglione. Called Elysium, the show featured a poetic tree root on stage, made by paper artist Charles Macaire. This symbolized Guo Pei's belief in Nature as the source of life and the importance of roots both literally and metaphorically. Flowers and growing plants were the inspiration from the silhouette and forms to the embroidery and accessories.

"Haute couture sits at the tip of the pyramid and faces a very limited audience ~it is more about leaving behind certain memories for the world, whereas ready-to-wear will ultimately enter into our lives," says the designer.

"But I don’t really want to make the kind of very industrialised fashion that people see these days. I hope that every single item I create, regardless of whether it is haute couture or ready-to-wear, will accompany you for a long time in your life, instead of being discarded along with the passage of time."

For Guo Pei, time is always pressing as her position in Paris means she must create two haute couture shows a year. She says the greatest satisfaction is when she can make new developments in design and technique. The designer says most of her designs are ultimately meant for people to wear and it is this work that sustains the more elaborate, artistic creations which call for enormous skill and time.

"Haute couture sits at the tip of the pyramid and is for a very limited audience ~ it is more about leaving behind certain memories for the world, whereas ready-to-wear ultimately enters our lives"

Guo Pei's remarkable sculptural
skill that combines whimsy
and technical mastery
Spring 2018
"I would really like to find a new path for ready-to-wear fashion in contrast to couture. The kind that I would like to create is the kind that will awaken your love, so I hope that my ready-to-wear clothing will also convey that same sense of devotion. As to how to make it more universal and acceptable to more people ~ this is actually something I am currently thinking very hard about. I think in the not-so-distant future, soon, people will be able to see my ready-to-wear collection."

The Spring 2018 couture Elysium show had a twilight colour palette with dark blue floral embroideries that evoked the mystery of that hour and its sfumatura colours. The models all wore towering crystalline platform shoes that extended the line, like the stem of a flower. Guo pei wanted to represent the life force as roots and flowers, as the sources of vitality.

While Guo Pei's fabrics are made in Switzerland, the atelier located in the Chaoyang District of Beijing makes the intricate embroideries. From the Gothic theme of Legend to the exploration of nature in the Elysium collection, the search for the divine is a key motif in the Guo Pei's work.  She believes gold embodies both knowledge and wealth.

"Perhaps many people would consider everything I have done so far as having reached a certain level of success, but to me it is only just a beginning," she explains. "What’s important is that the future is built on your foundations. I think my last 30 years have helped me build a very solid foundation, but I am only just standing on the starting line today. So I believe there will still be another 30 years for me going forward, and I hope my work will really become accepted by more and more people. If one day, my work could be remembered like that of Dior or Chanel, I think it would be a life very well lived. "

"Perhaps many people would consider everything I have done so far as having reached a certain level of success, but to me it is only just a beginning"

Severe and yet magical, an
architectural skyline
in black tracery
Fall 2018
For her most recent collection for Fall 2018,  Guo Pei’s show was held amid the ancient sculptures of the Romanesque gallery of the Cité de l’Architecture. This collection was overtly architectural with wide, structured panniered skirts, embroideries like Gothic stone tracery and patterns and designs like the silhouette of a cityscape or a ball gown shaped like a cupola. Guo Pei described her inspiration as wanting to evoke architecture’s “beauty of strength” with designs that demonstrated “a dialogue between the human body and spatial dimension.”

The technical mastery was evinced by creating architectural details into dresses, such as flying buttresses twisted into bodices or platforms with heels like columns, dresses like gilded spires and necklines in black tracery. Many of the designs were in black, giving the collection a modern, Goth look and gave a contemporary edge to her spiritual whims.

"If you ask me about the future of fashion, I believe it will experience more change," she says. "In fact everyone is thinking about it now ~ there is just too much ready-made clothing and no one is really in need of “that dress” anymore. Often when we go looking for new clothes, we can’t feel that sense of being drawn to something. Perhaps too many choices are making people feel more disorientated.

"I hope a fashion will emerge that is more universal than haute couture, but higher and more lasting than ready-to-wear, that no longer pursues temporary popularity. I think 'popularity' can sometimes make people feel very lost: something might have just come out onto the market ~ a new creation, a new design ~ but after less than two or three months it has already become outdated. I hope for a kind of stability that will allow a lot of designs to assimilate into everyone’s daily life and to accompany you for a long time to come ~ that would be my ideal."

Thursday, 16 May 2019

Tom Dixon's New Milan Showroom and Restaurant

Located in the heart of Milan, the new showroom and restaurant by British designer Tom Dixon. Main image and cover photograph by Elli Ioannou.
One of the highlights of Milan Design Week was the collection by British designer Tom Dixon shown in his new custom showroom and restaurant called The Manzoni in the heart of Milan, near the Teatro alla Scala. The space will open to the public later this month, writes Jeanne-Marie Cilento. Photographs for DAM by Elli Ioannou

Dramatic lamps and dark, oxide tiles create
a striking bar at The Manzoni
DURING Milan Design Week, The Manzoni, a new showroom and restaurant created by Tom Dixon's Design Research Studio, opened for the first time and launched new designs including the Fat, Slab, Primavera, Opal and Spring collections. The Manzoni will open as a permanent space this month in this tony part of historic Milan and will be the designer's European headquarters.

The entrance is located on Via Manzoni, near the Italian city's famed opera theatre, the Teatro alla Scala. As the British designer's first European showroom, The Manzoni will also allow Dixon to showcase his collections in Milan without having to create special, pop-up exhibitions during design week in different rented spaces.

Tom Dixon wants this new space to allow visitors to engage with his designs in what is a multi-use venue that includes a coffee bar, exhibition space, and dining hall ~ all furnished with his chairs, tables and lamps. It is an experimental space, a theatrical backdrop for the company's new and established designs combined with serving Italian coffee and food.

The Manzoni will be a permanent space in the this central part of historic Milan and will be the designer's European headquarters.

The long, rough-hewn granite bar where
windows overlook Milan's
tony Via Manzoni
Walking into the Manzoni, there is a monolithic block of granite which forms the bar area with lava stone tiles lining the wall. Gleaming like asteroids from outer space above the bar are the silvery new Opal lights. Stainless steel cabinets show Dixon's tea and coffee pot designs and glass carafes. The bar has pale green and dark oxide hued tiled walls and floors staggered in a graphic design. Beyond the bar is a seating area with the plump Fat chairs in grey and surrounding Flash coffee tables.

The design was completed by the interior design arm of Tom Dixon, Design Research Studio, collaborating with JLK Design Studio. The materials come from different regions of Italy including stone from Mount Etna in Sicily, marble from Verona, and plants from Sardinia. The opening of the Manzoni follows Tom Dixon's move last year from West London to  King's Cross, where the Coal Office houses the company's headquarters plus a showroom and restaurant. The restaurant in Milan will have space for 100 covers and diners will be able to buy everything in the space from table settings, to candle holders, glassware and furniture.

The materials come from different regions of Italy including stone from Mount Etna in Sicily, marble from Verona, and plants from Sardinia

The long dining room with communal
tables and the lamp installation above
Beyond the bar, the room opens into a long L-shaped hall with monastic, cork communal dining tables. The dining hall is in a monochromatic palette of dark and light greys.

The new Fat dining chairs are covered in Raf Simons's latest collection for Kvadrat. Looking up, there is an installation of spinning pendants suspended from the ceiling, from the Spring collection.

Adding a dramatic contrast to the subtle hues of the dining hall is the jungle of greenery in the gallery, created by Sardinian florist, Art Flowers Gallery. Palms and vines spring from aluminium planters and grow together to form the look of an overgrown oasis. It is illuminated by the Spring lamps, globes made shiny brass.

Beyond the bar, the room opens into an L-shaped hall with long rows of monastic, communal dining tables

In the courtyard, walls covered in leafy
 plants surround a marble table
At the centre of the Manzoni is a courtyard, which has a custom-made forest green marble table surroundd by foliage and designed by Testi and JKL Design Studio. This outdoor courtyard leads off the Jungle room, and is anchored by the round green Primavera marble table which is surrounded by steel seats with columnar bases.

Leafy plants grow up the walls of the courtyard and soften the hard edges of marble and steel. Tom Dixon envisions the Manzoni as a place to explore and show traditional and new materials and manufacturing processes.

Tuesday, 14 May 2019

New Exhibtion: The 20th Century Avant-Garde at MoMA

Hannah Höch, German (1889–1978). Collage (Dada). c. 1922. Original collage: cut-and-pasted papers, printed papers,
ink (postmark), and postage stamp on board, 9 3/4 × 13″ (24.8 × 33 cm). The Museum of Modern Art, New York.
The Merrill C. Berman Collection
A major new exhibition has opened at the Museum of Modern Art. Called Engineer, Agitator, Constructor: The Artist Reinvented , the show evokes the political engagement, groundbreaking experimentation and utopian aspirations of artists in the early 20th century, writes Antonio Visconti

John Heartfield (German, 1891–1968).
The Hand Has Five Fingers. 1928.
Lithograph, 38 1/2 × 29 1/4″.
The Museum of Modern Art, NY.
The Merrill C. Berman Collection.
ON view in The Robert B. Menschel Galleries until September next year, the exhibition will showcase the activities of historical avant-gardes, including galvanizing works of Dada, Bauhaus, De Stijl, Futurism, and Russian Constructivism, and highlights such figures as Aleksandr Rodchenko, Lyubov Popova, John Heartfield, and Hannah Höch.

Drawn from the Museum’s outstanding holdings from this period, the exhibition will mark a recent acquisition of more than 300 works from the Merrill C. Berman Collection, one of the most significant collections of early 20th-century works on paper in private hands. Engineer, Agitator, Constructor: The Artist Reinvented is organized by Jodi Hauptman, Senior Curator, Department of Drawings and Prints, MoMA, and Adrian Sudhalter, Consulting Curator, with Jane Cavalier, Curatorial Assistant, Department of Drawings and Prints, MoMA.

Max Burchartz (German, 1887–1961).
Red Square. c. 1928.
Cut-and-pasted printed and painted
papers on paper, 19 11/16 × 13 9/16″.
The Museum of Modern Art, NY.
The Merrill C. Berman Collection.
The historic acquisition in 2018 from the legendary Merrill C. Berman Collection transformed MoMA’s holdings of early 20th-century avant-garde art from Soviet Russia; Weimar Germany; the newly constituted Poland, Hungary, and Czechoslovakia; the Netherlands; and Italy, securing the Museum’s position as the unmatched repository of art of this period. Containing both individual masterworks and rare contextual material, the Berman Collection at MoMA offers standout strength and unparalleled depth in its area.

With its capacity to fill gaps and diversify modernism’s narratives, this acquisition is particularly urgent at this moment of the Museum’s expansion, offering exciting opportunities to share new and compelling stories, including those that are explicitly political, of the early 20th century.

Engineer, Agitator, Constructor will examine the far-reaching and profound impact of the era’s momentous events—World War I, the Russian Revolution, and the collapse of the Austro- Hungarian Empire, to name a few—and wholesale shifts in industry, technology, and labor. The exhibition will demonstrate that in this age of upheaval, artists reimagined themselves as “engineers,” “agitators,” “constructors,” “photomonteurs,” and “workers.” They turned away from painting and sculpture, inventing new, dynamic visual languages while working as propagandists, advertisers, publishers, editors, theater designers, curators, and more—all as they robustly engaged in novel ways with expanded audiences and established new infrastructures for the presentation and distribution of their work.

Valentina Kulagina (Russian).
Maquette for We Are Building.
1929. Gouache, cut-and-pasted
halftone prints, sandpaper
and watercolor on paper,
22 5/8 × 14 1/4″.
The Museum of Modern Art.
The Merrill C. Berman Collection
The exhibition will show how these artists actively addressed and sought to shape a mass audience; invented new strategies that persuasively reflected the modern moment with its shocks and ruptures; and wrestled with their own positions as protestors, mouthpieces of new regimes, or workers. The result of such redefinitions of artistic practice, the exhibition argues, was a reorientation of the work of art itself from painting to production—as one contemporary critic put it, a move “from easel to machine.”

The exhibition will also foreground the importance of collaboration and collectives and the strong continuities between the realms of fine art and graphic design in an age profoundly impacted by advances in photomechanical reproduction. Importantly, the exhibition will illuminate the essential roles of women artists in avant-garde activities, while mapping vital networks of image makers, curators, publishers, and designers across Europe, connecting key city centers: Berlin to Warsaw, Paris to Budapest. Objects shown will include propaganda, advertising, exhibition display, typography, books, journals, films, photography, theater design, painting, drawing, sculpture, and printmaking.

Lyubov Popova (Russian, 1889–1924).
The Actor’s Work Clothes, No. 7
(costume design for the play
The Magnanimous Cuckold). 1921.
Gouache, cut-and-pasted papers, and ink
on paper, 12 15/16 × 9 1/8″.
The Museum of Modern Art, NY.
The Merrill C. Berman Collection
Engineer, Agitator, Constructor will trace the decisive role of photomontage, a crucial new language of the early 20th century. Artists took advantage of the explosion of what was then new media, cutting up and pasting together bits of printed photographic and widely circulated images. The resulting works were directly connected to their current moment: in their bold collisions and juxtapositions, in their deployment of photographs of crowds and striding leaders, and in their presentation of laborers, cities, and factories, these artists captured the spirit of a new age.

“The exhibition will ask: during and in the wake of war and revolution, does the artist have a right to exist? If so, on what basis? And in what form? These questions—central to the theoretical debates of the era—will serve as the exhibition’s focus,” says Hauptman. “Just as gripping is the possibility of linking the radical experimentation of the early 20th century with contemporary art. The strategies, practices, and languages of artists involved in Constructivism, Dada, and Futurism, for example, are still reverberating today, and the exhibition will provoke vigorous and challenging conversations across time.”

Engineer, Agitator, Constructor will be accompanied by a fully illustrated publication commemorating the Merrill C. Berman acquisition, edited by Jodi Hauptman and Adrian Sudhalter with an essay by Juliet Kinchin, curator in MoMA’s Department of Architecture and Design, along with in-depth explorations of some 30 key objects by experts in the field.

Monday, 29 April 2019

James Adam: Portrait by Antonio Zucchi

Portrait of James Adam, architect and designer, by Antonio Zucchi, 1763. Photograph: Roberto Ricciuti, National Galleries of Scotland/Victoria and Albert Museum. Cover picture is a detail of the painting.
A magnificient portrait of James Adam, a member of the great eighteenth century Scottish architectural dynasty, by Italian artist Antonio Zucchi, has been purchased by the National Galleries of Scotland and the Victoria and Albert Museum. It is now on show at the Scottish National Portrait Gallery in Edinburgh, writes Antonio Visconti. Additional reporting by Isabella Lancellotti

Antonio Zucchi's portrait of James Adam
at the Scottish National Portrait Gallery.
Photograph: Roberto Ricciuti
National Galleries
of Scotland/Victoria
Albert Museum
JAMES Adam was one of the leading Scottish proponents of the European Neoclassical movement and played a key role in developing British architecture. This sumptuous portrait by Antonio Zucchi was bought for £480,000, purchased with £150,000 from the Art Fund and the rest provided by the Victoria & Albert Museum and National Galleries of Scotland.

The painting is on display amid the eighteenth-century collection at the Scottish National Portrait Gallery in Edinburgh before being exhibited in the V&A's British Galleries in London later this year. Zucchi’s portrait complements his work as an engraver and decorative painter already held in the collection.

“James Adam’s portrait is a work of great swagger and refinement that demonstrates the confidence of the Scottish Adam family as seminal taste makers for eighteenth-century Europe," said Christopher Baker, Director of European and Scottish Art and Portraiture for the National Galleries of Scotland. "It represents a splendid addition to the collection." The painting will be on show at the V&A for 12 months before returning to Edinburgh and will be shown at each institution for seven years on rotation.

Adam was a leading advocate of the European Neoclassical movement and played a key role in developing British architecture

The painting depicts architect James Adam during his grand tour of Italy in 1763, before he returned to London to work with his brother, Robert Adam. Antonio Zucchi painted James Adam opulently dressed in a resplendent setting. The architect and designer began his trip to Italy in 1760 and the portrait was painted three years later, before he left Rome. 

The portrait shows his profession as an architect as he holds dividers in one hand and paper in the other. However, James Adam is also presented as a man of wealth and discrimination, wearing a silk and fur trimmed gown, at ease with his knowledge of the remains of the classical world that surround him. This type of grand portraiture was most often done for travelling aristocrats, rather than architects.

Hanging Antonio Zucchi's portrait of James Adam
at the Scottish National Portrait Gallery.
Photograph: Roberto Ricciuti
National Galleries of Scotland
Victoria Albert Museum
“Zucchi’s portrait of James Adam depicts one of the leading Scottish exponents of the European Neoclassical movement who played a formative role in developing British architecture," said Julius Bryant, Keeper of Word and Image at The Victoria and Albert Museum. "It is an ideal portrait for the Neoclassicism section of the V&A’s British Galleries."

The architect is surrounded by objects that refer to the study of the ancient world that inspired the neo-classical designs for which the Adams were renowned. The sculptures depicted in the painting behind James include the Medici Vase and the Giustiniani Minerva, famous examples of ancient art which could be studied in Rome. James Adam and his contemporaries were inspired by these works for their own designs for projects in Britain.

The painting depicts James Adam during his grand tour of Italy in 1763, before he returned to London to work with his brother Robert Adam

The most significant object depicted in the painting is the sculpted capital of a Corinthian column in the foreground, on which James rests his left arm. At first it looks like a work from antiquity, but is actually taken from a sculpture design by James Adam. While he was in Italy, he made detailed plans for rebuilding the Houses of Parliament in London in a neo-classical style, a project that was never realised. As part of this scheme, he produced detailed drawings for a new British architectural order of columns, combining the Scottish unicorn with an English lion.

The drawings James Adam made were used as the basis for creating a model made of wax that was coloured bronze  ~ and it is this column capital that is painted by Zucchi. It advertised Adam’s ingenuity as a designer and the unicorn reminded his clientele of his Scottish heritage.

Antonio Zucchi's portrait of James Adam
at the Scottish National Portrait Gallery.
Photograph: Roberto Ricciuti
National Galleries of Scotland
Victoria Albert Museum
The portrait has the distinction of being the only known work of a British architect and designer by Antonio Zucchi. The artist was born in Venice and later worked on a number of decorative paintings for major interior schemes designed by the Adam brothers, before marrying the painter Angelica Kauffmann in 1781 and settling with her in Rome.

Robert and James Adam, along with their brothers John and William, were the sons of the mason-architect and entrepreneur William Adam. Together the family enjoyed the status of being Scotland’s foremost architects of the eighteenth century. Their role as designers of neo-classical buildings and interiors was to prove profoundly influential not only in Edinburgh and London but all across Europe, North America and Russia.

Robert and James established their architectural practice in 1758. They not only excelled at designing elegant Palladian buildings but also entire interior decorative schemes, including furniture, creating a great sense of unity to their neo-classical designs. Between 1773 and 1779 the brothers published The Works in Architecture of Robert and James Adam which played a key role in spreading knowledge of their work internationally.

As neo-classical designers, the Adam brothers were profoundly influential not only in Edinburgh and London but all across Europe, North America and Russia

This portrait of James Adam is the third artwork to be jointly-acquired by the V&A and NGS after acquiring two outstanding sculptures, Lorenzo Bartolini’s The Campbell Sisters in 2015, and Antonio Canova’s The Three Graces in purchased 1994.

“We are very pleased to be helping both National Galleries Scotland and the V&A in acquiring this fine and important portrait of James Adam," said Stephen Deuchar, Director of the Art Fund. "It is a fitting addition to both collections, marking the sitter’s legacy as a highly influential Scotsman with great significance to the history of British architecture and design.”

Tuesday, 9 April 2019

Renaissance Man: Giovanni Battista Moroni

Giovanni Battista Moroni's Portrait of a YoungWoman, ca. 1575, showing his virtuosity as a painter, the expressive eyes, the depiction of her rich jewels, the luxurious fabric of her gown and white lace. Oil on canvas. Private collection. Photograph: Michael Bodycomb.

A major exhibition of Italian Renaissance artist Giovanni Battista Moroni's work has opened at The Frick in New York. It brings together Moroni’s most arresting and best known portraits, exploring the experimentation and innovation of these works. They are shown alongside jewellery, textiles, arms and armour that bring to life Moroni's 16th Century world, writes Antonio Visconti with additional reporting by Isabella Lancellotti
Moroni's work exhibited in the Oval Room
at The Frick in New York, showing the richness
and large scale of his full-length portraits.
Photo: Michael Bodycomb
THE Italian Renaissance artist Giovanni Battista Moroni spent his career in his native town of Bergamo, in the Lombardy region northeast of Milan. He left a tremendous body of work, including numerous portraits, many more than those of his contemporaries who worked in important artistic centres, such as Titian in Venice and Bronzino in Florence. Although, Moroni never achieved their fame, he was a great innovator in portraiture.

In Renaissance Italy, one of the aims of portraiture was to make the absent person seem present through a naturalistic representation of the sitter. Moroni was a master of capturing his subject, although the proportions of the people in his portraits sometimes seem unnaturally compressed and they don't always have either the grandeur and perfection that Titian and Bronzino were able to bring to their paintings. But Moroni had an eye for detail and skilfully rendered fine jewels, rich fabrics and even intricately-painted curls of hair that appear to leap out of the picture frame with a sense of three dimensional realism.

The unidentified sitter in Portrait of a Young Woman (see main picture above) wears a pink brocade dress woven in silver and silver-gilt thread that Moroni has captured in all its Renaissance glory. The fabric of the gown warranted the painter's skill as it was the result of an extremely costly, labour-intensive process in which thin strands of precious metal are wound by hand around silk threads then brocaded into the fabric. The painstaking process is difficult to appreciate without close inspection of an actual piece of fabric made in this way.

In the Frick exhibition, called Moroni: The Riches of Renaissance Portraiture, a fragment of a sixteenth-century brocade shows how deftly the physical and visual qualities of textiles were translated by Moroni into paint. It also demonstrates the extraordinary craftsmanship of the objects Moroni encountered through his sitters and the artistic challenges and opportunities they presented.

Moroni created both religious paintings and portraits but is best known for works that seem to show his sitters exactly as they appeared before him. According to an anecdote first published in 1648 in Carlo Ridolfi’s Le meraviglie dell’arte, Titian, when approached by a group of would-be patrons, recommended that they instead sit for Moroni, praising his ritratti di naturale (portraits from life). The naturalism for which Moroni was most acclaimed, however, also became a point of criticism: his apparent faithfulness to his models caused some to dismiss him as a mere copyist of nature, an artist without “art ~ that is, without selection, editing, or adherence to ideals of beauty.

In Renaissance Italy, one of the aims of portraiture was to make the absent person seem present through a naturalistic representation of the sitter

The artist was one of the most prolific portrait painters
in Renaissance Italy, as seen in the exhibition's numerous
works in The Frick's East Gallery.
Photo: Michael Bodycomb
Bernard Berenson derided Moroni in 1907 as an uninventive portraitist who “gives us sitters no doubt as to how they looked.”

Subsequent scholars restored his reputation; the art historian Roberto Longhi, for example, in 1953 praised Moroni’s “documents” of society that were unmediated by style, crediting him with a naturalism that anticipated Caravaggio.

But Moroni’s characterization as an artist who faithfully recorded the world around him ~ whether understood as a positive quality or a weakness ~ has obscured his creativity and innovation as a portraitist.

Moroni was born in the early 1520s in Albino, a small city less than ten miles from Bergamo. Although it was part of the Venetian Republic during the sixteenth century, Bergamo was geographically ~ and, in some ways, culturally closer ~ to the Duchy of Milan, then under Spanish rule. Moroni encountered clients, fashions, and luxury goods from both Milan and Venice, which offered an entrée to a wider more international world of different cultures.

Giovanni Gerolamo Grumelli,
called The Man in Pink,
Dated 1560, oil on canvas
Fondazione Museo di Palazzo Moroni,
Bergamo Lucretia Moroni Collection
Photo: Mauro Magliani
In the early 1540s, Moroni trained in Brescia in the workshop of Moretto da Brescia. The paintings of Lorenzo Lotto, who spent more than a decade in Bergamo in the first quarter of the Cinquecento, were also a significant influence.

After brief periods in Trent during the late 1540s and early 1550s, Moroni worked from the mid-1550s predominantly in his native Albino and Bergamo, providing local clientele with religious paintings and startlingly lifelike portraits.

He achieved his characteristic naturalism through exacting attention to detail, psychologically potent and vivid expressions, and a “warts and all” approach that, at times, resulted in seemingly unidealised portrayals.

For example, his Lucrezia Agliardi Vertova conveys with emphatic clarity his sitter’s goiter, her sagging neck, wrinkled skin, and other features that do not conform to Renaissance ideals of female beauty. At the same time, she is as dignified as his most dashing cavalieri, including the celebrated Man in Pink (see at right).

This portrait, dated 1560, commemorates an event in Giovanni Gerolamo Grumelli's life, but to what specific aspect of his biography it corresponds remains unknown. The antique torso represented in the painting is an allegorical sculpture suggesting the learning of the classical world. A relief on the wall to the right of Grumelli depicts the biblical scene of the Prophet Elijah ascending to heaven, and letting fall to his successor, Elisha, his miraculous cloak.

On the ground is a fragment of an antique sculpture that appears to have toppled from a niche, only the sculpture’s right foot remains, possibly alluding to the passage of time or the succession of the ages. The Spanish inscription ~ MAS EL ÇAGUERO QUE EL PRIMERO (More to him who follows than the first)~ seems also to refer to succession.

Moroni’s most famous painting, The Tailor (see below), is unusual for its portrayal of a tradesman at work. It has impressed viewers for centuries with its lifelikeness and suspended action. In 1660, Marco Boschini, in his celebrated poem about Venetian painting, La carta del navegar pittoresco, proclaims Moroni’s Tailor so lifelike that it seems able to speak “more eloquently than a lawyer.” Paintings like The Tailor anticipate the narrative portraits for which Rembrandt would be celebrated the following century.

Moroni achieved his characteristic naturalism through exacting attention to detail and psychologically potent and vivid expressions

The Tailor, (Il Sarto or Il Tagliapanni)
ca. 1570, oil on canvas;
The National Gallery, London
Photo:©The National Gallery, London
Scholars have debated the precise meaning of The Tailor, prompting consideration of the social status of Moroni’s clientele: does the painting simply present a tailor carrying out his daily tasks, or is it an allegorical portrayal of the unidentified man’s family name (one such as Tagliapanni, meaning “cloth-cutter”)?

Based on the sitter’s clothing ~ fashionable and costly though made of wool, rather than the more expensive silk ~ the painting most likely depicts a well-to-do tailor.

A portrait of the sculptor Alessandro Vittoria was presumably painted early in Moroni’s career, when both artists were in Trent in the early 1550s. It shares a number of qualities with The Tailor, above all the portrayal of the figure as if suspended in an act related to his profession, here addressing the viewer as if interrupted while presenting, studying, or working on a sculpture.

Vittoria’s sleeve is rolled up to reveal his muscular forearm, as if to suggest the physical strength that sculpting requires. He owned at least five painted portraits of himself, and Moroni’s is probably one of two large paintings listed in the inventory of the sculptor’s possessions.

Moroni’s surviving works suggest that he offered his clients relatively standard bust, half- and three-quarter-length, and full-length portraits. Interestingly, he produced at least three full-length portraits of women, a format typically reserved in Europe for depicting men of the highest social rank. Two of these, Isotta Brembati (see below) and Lucia Albani (National Gallery, London), present the women seated majestically in Dante chairs.

Moroni's Isotta Brembati, ca. 1555–56
Oil on canvas. Fondazione Museo
di Palazzo Moroni, Bergamo
Lucretia Moroni Collection
Photo: Fondazione Museo di
Palazzo Moroni, Bergamo
The spectacular green and gold dress worn by Isotta Brembati (see at left) seems to be painted with precision; however, considering the weaving techniques used during the sixteenth century, it would be extremely unusual for the repeating pattern of a textile to increase in scale, as it does in the portrait, from the bodice to the skirt. Though the dress may have been based on one worn by the sitter, Moroni appears to have manipulated the pattern for heightened visual effect; his painted portrayal may lie somewhere between fact and fiction.
The other luxury items with which Isotta is depicted ~ the fan, a pendant cross of rubies, emerald, and pearls and the marten fur ~ also may have been embellished or altered for the portrait. Rare surviving examples of each type of object are included in the exhibition.

The objects also enable viewers to better grasp the discrepancies between Moroni’s paintings and the reality they purportedly record. Though marten furs were highly popular among elite women during the Italian Renaissance, very few have survived. The example included in the exhibition is the only one with a gold head with precious stones and enamel (see below).  It is composed of a sheet  of gold, hammered paper thin and chased to simulate fur, adorned with enamel, pearls, garnets, and a ruby.

The artist produced at least three full-length portraits of women, a format typically reserved in Europe for depicting men of the highest social rank

The extraordinary Venetian gold and jewel-encrusted
Marten's Head, ca. 1550–59 .A similar one is
depicted in the portrait of Isotta Brembati.
Gold with enamel, rubies, garnets, and pearls;
The Walters Art Museum, Baltimore;
Museum acquisition by exchange, 1967.
Photo: The Walters Art Museum, Baltimore

The gold marten's display alongside Moroni’s painting ~ in which the sitter’s marten fur with an enamelled gold head drapes casually around her neck ~ underscores the opulence of this accessory as well as its duality, being at once beautiful and grotesque.

The artist’s visually stunning representations of sitters of different social ranks have been appreciated as “documents,” but not sufficiently as innovations. Perhaps it is because of the relative freedom Moroni enjoyed outside the major artistic centres that he was able to exercise the moments of license and experimentation that complicate traditional notions of him as a mere documentarian.

Moroni's Pace Rivola Spini, the pendant of Bernardo Spini (Accademia Carrara, Bergamo), is arguably the first full-length portrait of a standing woman shown alone, painted during the Italian Renaissance (see Spini portraits below). 

Because of the freedom Moroni enjoyed working outside major artistic centres he was able  to be more experimental as a portraitist
Giovanni Battista Moroni’s Lucia Bernardo Spini
and Pace Rivola Spini, ca. 1573-75,
Alabastro d’Orta, oil on canvas,
Accademia Carrara, Bergamo;
Photo: Michael Bodycomb
Using this format for his depiction of a relatively unknown noblewoman of Albino, Moroni defies portraiture’s conventional social hierarchies. The choice of format raises questions about the nature of the commission and who suggested that Pace Rivola Spini be portrayed in this way: the painter, the sitter, or her husband. Unfortunately, no document related to this portrait (or any other by Moroni) has come to light
Moroni may have first encountered full-length portraiture through his teacher, Moretto, who is credited as the first artist of the Italian Renaissance to paint, in 1526, a full-length portrait of a standing man (Portrait of a Gentleman, now in the National Gallery, London).

The various full-length portraits Moroni painted throughout his career demonstrate his diverse approach to the format, from the austere Spini pendants to the sensational Man in Pink (see above), a composition enriched with allegorical imagery.

 Moroni's Pace Rivola Spini is the first full-length portrait of a standing woman shown alone, painted during the Italian Renaissance

Among Moroni’s inventions is a genre of so-called “sacred portraits.” These originated from the tradition of donor portraits, which depict individuals (usually the person who commissioned the work) alongside sacred figures. Moroni’s three surviving sacred portraits are brought together for the first time in the exhibition, calling attention to the varied roles that portraiture played during his time. Presumably intended for domestic settings, Moroni’s sacred portraits, including Two Donors in Adoration before the Madonna and Child and St. Michael, are distinguished by the scale and the naturalistic depiction of the people of the time in relation to the divine figures.

Moroni's sacred portrait of Two Donors
in Adoration Before the Madonna
and Child and St Michael, ca. 1557-60
Oil on Canvas. Virginia Museum of Fine Arts,
Richmond. Adolph D. and Wilkins C. Williams Fund
Photo:Virginia Museum of Fine Arts
Katherine Wetzel
In a departure from the tradition of donor portraits, in which the donors are subordinate to the divine beings they worship, the sitters of Moroni’s sacred portraits dominate the composition. Stylistic disparity also plays a significant role in these paintings. Moroni applied his strengths in naturalism to the depiction of human beings, those he saw and studied with his own eyes, but not to imagining the divine. His sacred figures are rendered in a more stylised mode, often modelled on earlier devotional images.

For example, in Two Donors, the unidentified couple appears to have been studied from life while Saint Michael and the Madonna and Child are reproduced from figures in an altarpiece of about 1540–45 by his teacher, Moretto da Brescia, in Verona’s Church of Sant’Eufemia.

This and Moroni’s other sacred portraits dispel the notion that his works were unmediated by style. It has been convincingly argued that Moroni’s sacred portraits present the sitters practising a kind of meditative prayer popularised by the Exercitia Spiritualia (Spiritual Exercises) of Saint Ignatius of Loyola (1548). The text instructs devotees to contemplate sin and episodes of Christ’s life and afterlife, imagining the use of their five senses to fully immerse themselves in the experience.

Thus in the portraits, the divine figures would represent the objects of the devotee’s contemplation. Included in the exhibition, a first edition of the Exercitia Spiritualia from the collection of the Library of Congress represents the popular practice of using a material aid like a prayer book to achieve spiritual enlightenment. As Moroni’s sacred portraits may record the practice of a particular type of prayer, they also emphasise the sitters’ religious piety (an important aspect of social respectability), and, as part-sacred image, they memorialise the sitter in perpetual association with the divine.

The painter's three surviving sacred portraits are brought together for the first time, calling attention to the varied roles that portraiture played during the Renaissance

Giovanni Battista Moroni, Lucia Albani Avogadro,
called La Dama in Rosso
(The Lady in Red), ca. 1554–57.
 Oil on canvas
The National Gallery, London
Photo: © The National Gallery
The exhibition at The Frick draws attention to the remarkable achievement of this artist's portraiture and brings to life a Renaissance society at the crossroads of the Venetian Republic and Spanish-ruled Milan.

The exhibition was organised by Aimee Ng, Associate Curator, The Frick Collection; Simone Facchinetti, Curator, Museo Adriano Bernareggi, Bergamo; and Arturo Galansino, Director General, Palazzo Strozzi, Florence. The show is presented in the Frick’s main floor Oval Room and East Gallery and is accompanied by a catalogue and series of public programs.

In conjunction with this major exhibition, The Frick Collection and Scala Art Publishers have produced the most extensive scholarly assessment in English of Moroni’s portraits to date.

The book, Moroni: The Riches of Renaissance Portraiture, features two illuminating essays by the show’s curators Aimee Ng, Simone Facchinetti, and Arturo Galansino. These along with another thirty-seven entries, provide new insights into the artist and his sitters and reveal Moroni’s creativity in translating his world into paint. The book is available in the Museum Shop or can be ordered through the Frick’s Website.

Moroni: The Riches of Renaissance Portraiture is at The Frick, 1 East 70th Street, near Fifth Avenue, New York, until June 2nd  2019.

Wednesday, 3 April 2019

Issey Miyake's Colourful New Geometry

Three dimensional textiles, resin-printed in brilliant blue, purple and yellow were the key motifs for the new Issey Miyake ready-to-wear collection shown in Paris last month. Photograph and cover picture by Elli Ioannou for DAM
We look at Issey Miyake the designer and his Japanese fashion house's latest collection, one of the highlights of Paris Fashion Week. The company was founded on its experimental designs and new fabric technologies are still key to its ethos. Creative director, Yoshiyuki Miyamae has brought a new textile called Blink to this season's collection, writes Jeanne-Marie Cilento. Additional reporting and photographs by Elli Ioannou

A pair of models wearing fluid stripes walk
 the runway at Paris' Lycée Carnot
THIS month, Japanese fashion designer Issey Miyake turns 81 and although he hasn't designed his men's and women's collections since the 1990s, devoting his time to research instead, he still oversees his staff's work and the various lines the company produces.

The designer became known for his technology-driven work and the artistic vision that he brought to all of his early collections.

Miyake was born in Hiroshima in 1938 and studied graphic design at the Tama Art University in Tokyo. After he graduated in 1964, he worked in Paris and New York City. By 1970, he had moved back to Japan and based himself in Tokyo, founding the Miyake Design Studio.

During the Eighties, Miyake began to experiment with new methods of pleating that would allow greater ease of movement for the body. The garments were cut and sewn, then placed between layers of paper and put into a heat press, where they were pleated. The material's 'memory' maintains the pleats and the piece can then be worn. Issey Miyake developed a friendship with another great innovator in technology, Apple's Steve Jobs. The designer went on to make all of the the black turtlenecks which would become part of Jobs' signature look.

During the Eighties, Miyake began to experiment with new methods of pleating that would allow greater ease of movement for the body

 Voluminous overcoats and collars made
of the Dough Dough fabric that can be
sculpted into different shapes
But by 1994, Miyake turned over the design of the men's collections to Naoki Takizawa, so that he could return to research full-time. In 1999, he also gave Takizawa the reins of the women's wear collections too. Eight years later, Dai Fujiwara became the creative director and ran the Issey Miyake fashion house until 2012.

The Spring/Summer 2012 women's collections were then designed by Yoshiyuki Miyamae and Yusuke Takahashi was made responsible for the men's line.

Experimentation is still at the heart of Issey Miyake under Miyamae, with last season's "Dough Dough" textile that can be moulded by twisting or crumpling into different shapes and now the current collection's new "Blink" fabric. This is made from a material created using resin printed on to it in bright, vivid colours.

"Dough Dough", the textile used in last spring's collection, was also included in this season's and is a polythene-based material, allowing it to be sculpted into different forms. For Autumn/Winter 2019,  it appeared to be more malleable and colourful, using a new mix of fibres, including wool.

“A sudden inspiration invites you into a journey, where unknown sceneries take your breath away; unknown scents captivate you," said the designer about this collection. "You find yourself humming songs and getting to know unforgettable tastes, thinking thoughts you never had before. Chance encounters continue to stimulate our creativity."

Innovation is still at the heart of Issey Miyake under Yoshiyuki Miyamae's direction, with last spring's Dough Dough textile and this season's new Blink fabric

Models criss-cross the runway in
choreographed movements
that reflected the designs
of the collection 
These ideas were expressed in the way the models walked in pairs and groups during the Paris show, like a choreography of people meeting and literally crossing paths, creating a geometry of movement. Held at the airy, shabby chic French Lycée Carnot, the AW19 show had live music by singer-songwriter Hiroko Sebu playing her Korg with another musician on a drum synthesizer.

Models criss-crossed the open space covered with dark-green girders and a glass roof. It was a lively and vivid collection with bright dashes of colour mixed with more subtle confections and different textures like knobbly pale grey knits for coats and dresses. A pale pink coat had a fluid, wave-like collar and there were dresses with kaleidoscopic motifs in brilliant colours with flowing silhouettes.

The motif of this Issey Miyake collection is the combination of fluent forms and a palette of neutrals mixed with unusual combinations of colour. For example, the floating purple, yellow, green, blue and black skirt paired with a navy blue jacket and lime turtleneck worn with a long, blue skirt. The first looks in the collection included coats and skirts in the “Dough Dough" material that can be moulded to create a variety of shapes.

Polychromatic looks played with geometry and colour, highlighted by the show's pastel looks in plain knits that built to a finale of strong patterns and vibrant hues 

Looks in subtle greys worn with black
stockings and ankle boots were a foil
to vivid tunics & overcoats
There were also looks that included the Issey Miyake pleats ~ more like loose folds ~ in black and white with patterns like a sheet of music.

The new fabric with it's triangular grids of pattern was used for voluminous coats and long dresses in panels of multicolour technical pleating.

The polychromatic looks were a play on geometry and colour and these were highlighted by the clever way the Paris show began with pastel hues and plain fabrics and then built to a finale where there were strong patterns and vibrant hues in purple and lime green.

There were even brilliantly hued checks in wool used for tunics and overcoats. The geometric diamond design was inspired by Issey Miyake's signature Bao Bao bags. This pattern was used for coats as well as tops and trousers in both black and white and vivid colour.

The new collection by Miyamae managed to combine both technological innovation with designs that were comfortable yet with the avant-garde Issey Miyake aesthetic that gives a dash of poetry to wearing clothes.