In Plato's dialogues, Socrates often employs the ancient Greek aphorism "γνῶθι σεαυτόν" (gnōthi seauton), meaning "know thyself". The aphorism has a variety of meanings, but it appears first and foremost as an invitation to know ourselves to be able to understand others and grasp the essence of human nature. In the fashion industry we should instead start using the aphorism "know your art".
During fashion weeks we see hundreds of collections that claim to have links with the art world, but at times these inspirations aren't that convincing. This mainly happens for a general lack of knowledge from the designer's side about that particular artist or artwork chosen as the starting point for a collection.
Those who know their art references and understand how to reinterpret them in their garments instead come up with unique designs, as Josep Font as so far proved at Delpozo through a series of strong collections in which he successfully combined a few arty inspirations together.
In Delpozo's A/W 2017 collection, Font mentioned Swiss artist, architect, designer, typographer, and theorist Max Bill (1908–94) as one of the main inspirations.
An exponent of concrete and constructive art, Bill was fascinated with the possibility of creating new and exciting forms that moved from a mathematical aesthetic.
In his practice Max Bill attempted to overthrow barriers between art and scientific knowledge, seeing geometry as the mutual relation of surfaces, and lines as the primary foundations of all forms.
The artist had a cupboard in his studio in which he kept paper strips: he used them for his experiments and studies to create innovative shapes for his sculptures that he then made in stone or metal.
In 1986 Bill remade one of his seminal pieces from 1947-48, "Kontinuität", inspired by the Möbius strip. Just like Max Bill, Font seemed to have taken one strip of fabric and moulded it into coats and jackets, creating with it winged motifs, decorative ruffles, and soft pleats. In a nutshell it was as if Font employed flannel wool to recreate the shapes of Max Bill's sculptures.
Trying to find a new meeting point between functionality and form, Font came up with clean cut garments, sculpted capes, coats and peplum tops at times matched with fine hooded knits decorated with feather-like sequins inspired by hummingbirds. In some cases these pieces evoked in their purity of lines Space Age designs à la André Courrèges and the cocooning shapes of Cristóbal Balenciaga.
A circular shape evoking the moon and therefore space, but also Bill's sculptures, prevailed when it came to the outerwear, but also the accessories, with a spherical bag inspired by Max Bill's continuous perspective with one side covered in multi-coloured feathery sequins.
The emphasis, though, was on separates as proved by the colour-blocked striped knits and merino wool sweaters covered in fish scales sequins and decorated with motifs of passiflora, by the long skirts and elegant pants, but there were more whimsical numbers as well such as a striped silk lame top matched with a tiered tulle skirt.
The palette - comprising bright yellow, delicate violet, dark burgundy, deep blue, chestnut, and dark green - and a floral woven, printed and embroidered motif that appeared on the closing dresses, came instead via Hungarian painter József Rippl-Rónai (a member of the Post-Impressionist group called Les Nabis). The abstract floral motif was actually an interpretation of Rippl-Rónai's brushstrokes.
It may not be so rare to see Delpozo's delicate silk tulle gowns on the red carpet, but the label remains a prêt-à-couture brand, as proved by the refined daywear in this collection.
And while Font has led it in a honourable way for the last five years, it would be intriguing to see if, in future, somebody like him with a solid knowledge in art, architecture and fabrics, may end up leading a major fashion house. Cultish creative directors may be hip, but maybe the time has come to make genuine knowledge trendier than mere attitude.