Fashion as art, art in fashion

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ART is woven into fashion at Voyageur, a fashion collection on display at Alabang’s Art Lounge in Manila until June 28. Voyageur was produced in collaboration between the Septième Rebelle label and the Fundacion Sansó.

The collection married the structure of Septième Rebelle with the textile creations of the artist and winner of the Presidential Medal of Merit Juvenal Sansó. Before making a name for himself as a master painter, Sansó created textile designs for fashion houses: one of the most important on this list was Balenciaga in his heyday from the late 1950s to the 1960s. textiles was a way for the artist to support himself after graduating from the National School of Fine Arts in Paris. These efforts were to bear fruit – he was discovered by the first pre-war seamstress Elsa Schiaparelli, who introduced Sansó to the Lucie Weill gallery, which offered him his first solo art exhibition.

This is Fundacion Sansó’s second collaboration with Septième Rebelle, the first having taken place last year (Story here: https://www.bworldonline.com/arts-and-leisure/2021/12/13/416877/septieme-rebelle-brings-sansos-textile-prints-to-life/).

Seventh Rebel’s creative director, Robbie Santos, made approximately 70 to 100 rough sketches, and after receiving guidance from Fundacion Sansó on the textile designs to use, these designs were printed onto fabric. On a June 15 broadcast, Santos said about 30% of the clothes came from those archives. “The Fundacion Sansó has a supplier who can print on fabrics,” he explained during a backstage group interview.

Voyageur was inspired by the itch to travel after the pandemic. “It’s about self-expression. We all felt so smothered. hindi ka puwedeng mag-travel (you can’t travel),” Mr. Santos said. He listed the travel restrictions that were in place until a few months ago.

“It’s an expression of your freedom,” he said of the resort-themed collection, which is inspired by activities you can do on vacation: dancing, dining, doing party or relax. These were refined by mixing classic men’s and women’s silhouettes during the show: think loosely tailored leisure suits for men in the 60s; or asymmetrical dresses from the late 1950s, all printed with the abstractions that would become Sansó’s trademark at the height of his own fame.

Mr. Santos reflects on his own similarities to the artist. “He was forced to do things for a living na hindi naman niya gusto (which he did not like). The label’s name itself means “seventh rebel” in French, indicating Mr. Santos’ status as the seventh child. “For me, I could identify with that…there are people doing something, but it’s not really their passion.” While receiving training from Istituto Marangoni-Paris, London College of Fashion and Central Saint Martins, he said design was his second phase in life, after building a former career in academia.

He evokes the difference in discipline between art and fashion: “In fashion, you have to take care of the body. You have to measure the model’s body… In art, you just have to take a look at the canvas, find your inspiration, maybe do some rough sketches, then shoot ka na (go),” he said. “In fashion, it’s difficult. The fabric should adapt to the body of the person wearing it. If the painting process is tedious, it’s because you’re painting layer after layer of paint. In fashion, it becomes tedious because you have to do fitting after fitting.

While it’s true that Septième Rebelle makes beautiful clothes, they aren’t widely known, and seeing a Septième Rebelle piece in the wild is a bit like spotting a piece of secret code. Mr Santos said: “I don’t want to be so big that you sacrifice quality. I don’t want to be so famous that you end up being superficial. — Joseph L. Garcia

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