The Mists of Avalon
For Spring 2014, I am looking at English Pre-Raphaelite paintings. I was initially inspired by a dazzling exhibition at the Tate Museum in London, "Pre-Raphaelites: Victorian Avant-garde". My favorite artists have always been; John William Waterhouse, Lawrence Alma-Tadema, Dante Gabriel Rossetti, Frederick Leighton and John Everett Millais. My color palette comes directly from their luminous iridescent canvases…teal, sage, lavender, lilac, robin's egg, mauve, eggplant, coral, persimmon…and especially shades of unbleached, tea-dipped linen.
I was reminded that in the 1960s there was a Pre-Raphaelite revival; as seen in the romantic clothing, psychedelic posters and exotic interiors favored by rock personalities. I loved the fact that Jimmy Page has a major collection of Burne-Jones tapestries and William Morris furniture. The painted backdrop for my show (designed by Alia Penner), was inspired by the work of the Dutch art collective, The Fool (who painted and designed the iconic exterior murals and interior décor for the Beatles' Apple boutique). I also love the film, "Wonderwall" (1968) that George Harrison produced and scored the sitar-tinged music for. The feeling is Summer of Love, Mr. Freedom, Granny Takes a Trip.
The cast of romantic Pre-Raphaelite heroines float down my runway; Ophelia, Guinevere, Juliet, Morgan le Fay, Pandora, the Lady of Shalott…in light-as-air ruffled and fringed short dresses…sometimes done-up in active sportswear mesh, or wrapped into shapes based on the way Maasai men dress (whom I had seen on a recent trip to Tanzania). Everything is flecked with antique gold, or shot with peacock shades of metallic thread…an entire enchanted forest filled with sparrows and songbirds, blooming with poppies, water lilies, sunflowers. There are crewel embroideries and antique wallpaper patterns reproduced photographically in digital prints on chiffon and nylon faille. There are mesh baseball jackets printed with gold roses, iridescent sparrow kimonos, micro-sequined gym shorts, space-dyed lace sweaters, petunia glamour-girl bathing suits, bronze velvet jams, Art Nouveau appliqué suede hot pants, foil star jerseys, rose-embroidered linen overalls, crochet caftans and metallic tulle dresses covered in golden lace flowers.
I'm styling the show with Maasai beaded collars and Balinese headdresses. James Coviello fashioned dreamy floral fantasy headpieces out of antique tinsel trimmings, ribbons and wisps of pastel feathers. I complete the look with studded butterfly gladiator sandals, Fairy wing sunglasses, suede tapestry satchels, distressed velvet sneakers, and Erickson Beamon's beautiful opal periwinkle moonstone pendant gems wrapped in copper wire.