Modern masterpieces: Designers turn to the art world for inspiration

view gallery VIEW GALLERY

This season, a host of designers looked to high art and homespun crafts for inspiration, says Stephanie Hirschmiller

From the work of artists and photographers to skills such as glass painting and tuffetage (an embroidery technique), this season  designers have both turned to the art world for inspiration and harnessed some artisan techniques that pack a serious creative punch.

It was the abstract daubs of Catalan artist Joan Miró that inspired the bold brushstroke prints of Michael van der Ham – realised across signature collaged concoctions, while Paul Smith’s clean asymmetric graphics took their cue from the work of seminal French image maker Jean-Paul Goude – incidentally, the creative brain behind Kenzo’s recent ad campaigns. Roksanda Ilincic fused the rigid graphics of artist Josef Albers with the organic contours of Bohemian sculptor Niki de Saint Phalle for a Seventies-inflected collection that felt thoroughly modern.

But leave it to Louis Vuitton’s Marc Jacobs to up the artistic ante to new levels. Alongside the house’s own Damier check canvas, the work of  conceptual artist Daniel Buren, the man behind Les Deux Plateaux, the giant grid of liquorice-like columns in Paris’ Palais Royal courtyard, proved a key contemporary reference – not only for the graphic looks but also  extending to the monolithic stage set.

Buren himself was enlisted to create the site-specific installation: four  “columns” of escalators via which models both entered and exited a  catwalk of giant glass squares.

Craftsmanship too made a huge impact this season. Jacobs’ assimilation of the house’s artisan DNA was evident in minaudières of painted glass –  hand-constructed by a Venetian  mirror-painting specialist – while the tuffetage check of the Speedy Cube was borrowed from a traditional carpet-making technique. When it comes to creating butter-soft woven leathers, fashion-insider favourite and label to watch, Martina Spetlova, eschews more new-fangled laser-cutting techniques for a chisel because “the edges are clean and sharp without the residue or burn you get when laser cutting. I use light colours and soft leathers which are  easier to burn,” she explains.

Peter Pilotto and Christopher de Vos chose to embellish their signature digital prints with corresponding decorative motifs inspired by Indian beadwork they encountered on holiday in Kolkata. However, the inimitable Henry Holland appropriated a rather more contemporary craft: “Tie dye was one of my fondest memories of Nineties bad-taste fashion,” he laughs. “We  updated the technique by tie-dying ultra-fine leather and making it into stronger more structured pieces.”

While they may not have been moved by Balearic rave culture, Dolce & Gabbana’s Sicilia collection proved the season’s most inspired ode to traditional holiday handicrafts. Trapeze silhouettes were rendered in sackcloth fabric with raffia trims, hourglass versions emblazoned with Caltagirone heads from local ceramics, and a plethora of vibrant prints featured the puppet soldier protagonists of the region’s street theatre. Even sculptural midollino or rush bustiers and the cage-like framework of their finale gown were inspired by woven Sicilian baskets.

However, alongside these century-old skills come thoroughly contemporary, yet equally labour-intensive adaptations on man-made materials. Alongside the waffle effect of Christopher Kane’s origami hand-pleated pastel silks came intricate overlays that may have resembled paper but were actually vacuum-cast polyurethane. And as for the lurid-hued lace effect seen at Erdem? Hand-embroidered PVC. “It gives this wonderful illusion of lace,” enthused Erdem Moralioglu. “I developed it with a Swiss embroidery company who use traditional couture techniques from the 1950s.” Pure modern artisan.

ebookA delicious collection of 50 meaty main courses
Life and Style
ebookNow available in paperback
  • Get to the point
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

ES Rentals

    iJobs Job Widget
    iJobs Fashion

    Ashdown Group: Data Scientist - London - £50,000 + bonus

    £35000 - £50000 per annum + generous bonus: Ashdown Group: Business Analytics ...

    Ashdown Group: IT Project Coordinator (Software Development) - Kingston

    £45000 - £50000 per annum: Ashdown Group: IT Project Coordinator (Software Dev...

    Ashdown Group: Editor-in-chief - Financial Services - City, London

    £60000 - £70000 per annum + benefits : Ashdown Group: A highly successful, glo...

    Ashdown Group: Junior Application Support Analyst - Fluent German Speaker

    £25000 - £30000 per annum + benefits: Ashdown Group: A global leader operating...

    Day In a Page

    General Election 2015: Ed Miliband's unlikely journey from hapless geek to heart-throb

    Miliband's unlikely journey from hapless geek to heart-throb

    He was meant to be Labour's biggest handicap - but has become almost an asset
    General Election 2015: A guide to the smaller parties, from the the National Health Action Party to the Church of the Militant Elvis Party

    On the margins

    From Militant Elvis to Women's Equality: a guide to the underdogs standing in the election
    Amr Darrag: Ex-Muslim Brotherhood minister in exile still believes Egypt's military regime can be replaced with 'moderate' Islamic rule

    'This is the battle of young Egypt for the future of our country'

    Ex-Muslim Brotherhood minister Amr Darrag still believes the opposition can rid Egypt of its military regime and replace it with 'moderate' Islamic rule, he tells Robert Fisk
    Why patients must rely less on doctors: Improving our own health is the 'blockbuster drug of the century'

    Why patients must rely less on doctors

    Improving our own health is the 'blockbuster drug of the century'
    Sarah Lucas is the perfect artist to represent Britain at the Venice Biennale

    Flesh in Venice

    Sarah Lucas has filled the British pavilion at the Venice Biennale with slinky cats and casts of her female friends' private parts. It makes you proud to be a woman, says Karen Wright
    11 best anti-ageing day creams

    11 best anti-ageing day creams

    Slow down the ageing process with one of these high-performance, hardworking anti-agers
    Juventus 2 Real Madrid 1: Five things we learnt, including Iker Casillas is past it and Carlos Tevez remains effective

    Juventus vs Real Madrid

    Five things we learnt from the Italian's Champions League first leg win over the Spanish giants
    Ashes 2015: Test series looks a lost cause for England... whoever takes over as ECB director of cricket

    Ashes series looks a lost cause for England...

    Whoever takes over as ECB director of cricket, says Stephen Brenkley
    Fishing for votes with Nigel Farage: The Ukip leader shows how he can work an audience as he casts his line to the disaffected of Grimsby

    Fishing is on Nigel Farage's mind

    Ukip leader casts a line to the disaffected
    Who is bombing whom in the Middle East? It's amazing they don't all hit each other

    Who is bombing whom in the Middle East?

    Robert Fisk untangles the countries and factions
    China's influence on fashion: At the top of the game both creatively and commercially

    China's influence on fashion

    At the top of the game both creatively and commercially
    Lord O’Donnell: Former cabinet secretary on the election and life away from the levers of power

    The man known as GOD has a reputation for getting the job done

    Lord O'Donnell's three principles of rule
    Rainbow shades: It's all bright on the night

    Rainbow shades

    It's all bright on the night
    'It was first time I had ever tasted chocolate. I kept a piece, and when Amsterdam was liberated, I gave it to the first Allied soldier I saw'

    Bread from heaven

    Dutch survivors thank RAF for World War II drop that saved millions
    Britain will be 'run for the wealthy and powerful' if Tories retain power - Labour

    How 'the Axe' helped Labour

    UK will be 'run for the wealthy and powerful' if Tories retain power