Showing both the finished article and at the same time demonstrating the way it came into being is the theme of Arthur Arbesser’s spring/summer 2019 collection. He uses images of the artist’s studio as both a conceptual and an actual laboratory, a space of projections where an idea begins to take shape.
To begin with there is the perfect geometry of the graphic experimentations of the Viennese traditions of the early 20th century which link to the personal history of the designer. Then there are the works of Fausto Melotti, an Italian sculptor who pursued the great themes of humanity. Melotti enclosed slender figures in an ethereal space following mathematical rules while allowing himself to be contradicted by heterogeneous rhythms. For Arbesser, Melotti’s work exemplifies a retro-journey to discover the principles of natural order, geometry and harmony, and so find sanctuary from the emotional challenges of daily existence.
Clothes are like rhythmic inventions, now harmonious now syncopated, but always graceful, never short of breath. The proportions are constant, even if emerging from the deconstruction and reconstruction of classic shapes. Melotti’s approach is recalled in the continuity between different areas of creative exploration, which Arbesser interprets as a dialogue between the different languages of the materials. He sees union between slender lines and airy volumes, lines whose boundaries evolve once detached from their natural silhouette.
The collection veers between the neat lines of the jackets, stark in their sartorial construction, and the softness of dressing gowns and aprons, made in flexible fabrics, such as transparent velvet, some embellished with sequins. Surreal elements refer to the face of Viennese sculptor Vally Wieselthier, whose head modelled in ceramic serves as inspiration to convey a mature and mischievous femininity, determined to dress in contrasts. The women imagined in these dresses are at once austere and ironic, conceiving fashion as an intellectual game through which to play with their multifaceted identities, to hide, discover, and be noticed.
The metallic component – a leitmotif that has characterised Arbesser’s collections for several seasons – suggests gold and platinum coatings; these fabrics are balanced by the introduction of natural materials such as printed and fringed jute, crêpe in shades of pink and blue, and printed linen jersey. The dynamic tone of the collection is set by the prints. They emerge from a transverse line that unites the playful flair of Melotti – turned here into a repetition of stylized horses, both printed and knitted – and the geometric rule of the stripes, one of the most distinctive themes of the brand.
The tone is enriched by the introduction of an organic print, a whirlwind of colours, reminiscent of the creative disorder of the painter’s palette. It’s a clear reference to the artist’s studio; a space in which the tumult of the abstract seeks order and finds it in the creation of the work of art: an end result of a process that is both reflective and material, a synthesis between concept and object.
The earrings, designed for the second season by designer Nathalie Jean, in gold knit, recall the elemental shapes of Melotti.
The ceramic sculptures, entirely handmade, are created by Austrian designer and ceramist Onka Allmayer-Beck. The shoes reconfirm the enduring collaboration with tuscan shoe brand Fabio Rusconi.