In yesterday's post we looked at textiles created by artisans and made following timeless traditions. In the modern fashion industry with its super-fast rhythms there isn't often space for such arty pieces, but, every now and then, you get a few designers who seem committed to rediscover very special crafts.
During Paris Fashion Week for example Rahul Mishra, winner of the 2014 International Woolmark Prize, proved that it is possible to elevate ready-to-wear to couture through detailed hand-made embroideries and appliqued elements.
For his A/W 2017 collection Mishra took inspiration from a walk through the Centre Pompidou during a very special evening, Paris White Night, a 24-hour open door festival, and re-worked in embroideries details from famous paintings by Vincent van Gogh and Paul Signac.
Naturally, Mishra didn't do all the embroideries by himself, but employed hundreds of artisans in India, who, using thread and needle rather than brushes and paint, recreated delicate Pointillist effects on fabrics.
The resulting collection featured wearable pieces: Mishra often employed fabrics borrowed from men's wear and combined them with feminine elements in his ruffled skirts and oversized pants.
He made one faux pas, using at times too many ruffles, tiered layers and peplum-like motifs, and losing control on the over-embellished pieces that also featured optical black-and-white or yellow and orange stripes.
But the combination of embroidered sunflowers and fruits such as strawberries and plums, blossoming trees and houses with sporty silhouettes or practical jackets and cardigans proved interesting most of the time.
In the most outstanding pieces Paul Signac's multi-coloured "The Pine Tree at St. Tropez" seemed superimposed on a simple check pattern that may have been borrowed from a basic tablecloth or from Superstudio's iconic grid, and the result created a mesmerising effect thanks to the tiny infinite dots (the collection was very aptly entitled "Infinity").
Colour-blocked graphic stripes broke the Pointillist rhythms introducing abstract expressionism, but the dots returned at the very end of the collection.
In a way the technique proved very modern, at times evoking pixels; besides, the combination of the complex embroideries on sportswear designs such as simple sweatshirts and bomber jackets introduced a nice dichotomy between traditions and contemporary pieces, while sending out a message. The Pointillist motifs could indeed be read as a reaction to the instant visual candies offered by digital prints and as a way for the designer to remind us that a human hand can still achieve the impossible when it is given the time to do so.