Beguiling, eccentric, spectacular, spellbinding and surreal – these are just a few adjectives that can be used to describe Antoni Gaudí's Park Güell, located in the midst of Barcelona's urban sprawl.
The park features intricate constructions and assemblages of fantastic forms, animals, symbols and elegant geometries. It represents a mix of traditions and innovations, in which Catalan art, religion and decorative elements are all combined together to form and shape a fantastic landscape.
The park is the collaborative achievement of Gaudí, best known as the architect of the Sagrada Família, and Eusebi Güell, a textile magnate and entrepreneur who bought a hillside property and in 1900 hired the architect to radically transform it.
Gaudí's works and this park in particular have always been very inspiring to all sorts of artists, and this reference resurfaced during London Fashion Week Men's on the Sibling runway.
Designers Cozette McCreery and Sid Bryan went to Barcelona on holiday and the park inspired them a clashing palette of colours, shapes, and forms (but their inspiration of choice seems to go particularly well when you think about Eusebi Güell's textile connections).
The unpredictable tiles in unrelated patterns and textures were the main inspiration for the fragmented knits included in the collection, but elements from blown-up photos of the tiles at Park Güell were also used for the prints of the tailored suits with nipped jackets characterized by zebra-stripe lines or a jacquard motif.
The architectural influence was combined with other inspirations - Princess Diana, "East Enders" actress Barbara Windsor and London's Pearly Kings and Queens (with some influence from Jamaican music producer Lee Scratch Perry - playing in the background) - that generated a romantic mood channeled by ruffled collars and serpentine appliqued motifs that called to mind the undulating outlines of the benches in the park, recalling the fact that, according to Gaudí's, perfection is found in continuous forms (hence the knits with unbroken patterns and curvilinear tiered elements).
Stylist and accessory designer Judy Blame sprinkled some of his safety pin and button punk magic all over the designs, coming up with accessories - hats, keychains and badges - that complemented the men and women's wear designs.
Sibling dropped indeed out of London's womenswear Fashion Week to reunite their two offers into one runway during the London menswear showcase, a very reasonable choice that allowed them to take a bit more time and work a bit more slowly on developing the new pieces.
Not everything was perfect: some designs looked lifted from the '80s (tiered knitted frills were a very popular decorative motif at the time) while, harnesses, Lurex cycling pants and a quilted bomber in a pink jacquard seemed redundant.
Yet there was a commercial positive mood in this collection that has been lacking for a few years in major established brands that were famous in the '80s for their knitwear (think Benetton).
You wonder if working for/collaborating with a big company may help Sibling editing their collections further and toning down the most extravagant pieces. Avant-garde and experimental is good, but, at times, coherent and wearable knitted pieces with an edgy twist are better as they can be enjoyed by a wider consumer base.