It may be hard concentrating on summer wardrobes when outside it's freezing and we're all thinking about Christmas. Yet Nina Donis' S/S 16 moodboard has the power of generating enough curiosity to leave behind for a while the festive season and re-shift your attention on something designed for warmer climates.
The moodboards of the Russian duo Nina Donis (Nina Neretina and Donis Pouppis) are indeed always compilations of the many coherent ideas they feel inspired by, from cartoonish characters to music and artworks. The funniest bit is trying to spot who or what they are referencing and how they translated that particular reference into their collection.
For the Spring/Summer 2016 season they picked some interesting icons that went from the late singer Amy Winehouse to iconic Patsy from Absolutely Fabulous (well, who can resist this hilarious '90s sitcom?), both mixed with Moomintroll's Little My. The latter is a tomboyish little girl with a knot of hair on top of her head who loves adventure and has a penchant for catastrophes.
The adventure-loving side of this character was interpreted as sportswear that borrowed at times from vintage swimwear, while large numbers printed on the garments came from sidewalk adverts, numbers on sails and on the tops donned by rugby or basketball players.
The result is a very basic wardrobe with plenty of separates (shorts, vests, sleeveless tops, oversized shirts...), tunic or tent and maxi dresses, plus light trench coats and anoraks and large carrier bags. A comfortable and voluminous silhouette prevails, and the best option is a very versatile top that nips at the waist and creates a sort of rigid bell-shaped peplum - this piece can indeed be matched with shorts for a sporty look or a medium length skirt for an elegant twist.
There is one particularly interesting inspirations on the moodboard - Mikhail Matyushin, whose theories on colour must have influenced the design duo at some point. A rather obscure reference, Matyushin was a musician, composer, painter and colour theorist and one of the most learned avant-garde artists in Russia, associated with the Russian Futurists.
His aesthetic theory was inspired by Symbolism, Pantheism, and Futurism, as well as by the Theosophical theories of Charles Hinton, mathematician Peter Ouspensky and mystic, philosopher and composer George Gurdjieff. Matyushin wrote the music for one of the earliest and most significant futurist theatre pieces, Victory Over the Sun, performed in St Petersburg in 1913, with designs and costumes by Malevich and Alexei Kruchenych's libretto (few fragments survive from Matyushin's composition).
After the Revolution Matyushin taught colour and form at the State Free Art Studio (SVOMAS) and then at the Leningrad Institute of Artistic Culture (INHUK) where Malevich also worked. When Malevich went to Warsaw and Berlin in 1927 he took with him large colour charts from Matyushin's studio, explanations of the work Matyushin and his students had been doing (one colour chart by Matyushin seems to be among the inspirations included in this collection).
In 1932 Matyushin published The Laws Governing the Variability of Colour Combinations: A Reference Book on Colour, one of the last manifestos from the Russian avant-garde. In the preface to the book, Matyushin stated that having a "world view" is essential to understand colour concepts and called the fundamental concepts of his "world view" "Organic Culture" and "Spatial Realism".
What has all this got to do with sportswear, you may wonder? Well, Matyushin developed a training program that, through a series of pneumatic exercises that included yoga and meditation, encouraged the development of students' artistic skills.
He also claimed that human beings could expand their optical radius through a series of exercises and that, once they had developed this capacity for "circumvision", colours would present more intensely and humans would experience the spatial reality of the fourth dimension.
The use of colours in this collection and in the lookbook relating to it are directly linked to Matyushin's theories and, while consumers may not find behind these garments the solution to a problem that fascinated this avant-garde theorist throughout his life - the human inability to see all 360 degrees and the possibility to achieve rearward vision - some of these versatile designs may provide fresh addition to a dynamic Spring/Summer wardrobe with an arty edge.
Image credits for this post
Photos: Donis & Nina
Idea: Natasha Ganelina
Layout: Svetlana Yaroshevich, Natasha Ganelina & Dima Pantyushin
Model: Ference Eniko
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