The curated collection of objects on a common theme is often used by designers and artisans for inspiration. Last winter, Hermes’s Monde d’Hermes celebrated the pleasures of winter with a series of breath-taking pictures of snow. They were taken by the Japanese photographer, Yoshihiro Hagiwara who returns to Northern Japan every winter to photograph derelict factories covered in blankets of snow. The photographs transform the subjects into astonishingly beautiful abstract plays of light and shade that seem reminiscent and ghostly but not quite recognisable.
The same kind of metamorphosis can be seen at work at Fashioning Winter’s White Perspectives exhibit, curated by Sofia Hedman and Serge Martynov. It transports us to a world in which snow leopards are made of paper, classically-inspired clothes drape with the elegance of Wedgwood and in which mother-of-pearl and even teeth sparkle unexpectedly on clothing. It considers the ways in which materials and technologies have evolved, suggesting new uses and the refreshing ways that fashion has offered new interpretations for the traditional.
At ground floor level we see a Gareth Pugh ensemble (AW 2014), at once futuristic and classically-inspired, hanging next to a Jean-Paul Gaultier white lace dress (SS 2009) which turns a historic embellishment into twenty-first century couture. The former recalls sculptural sheets of recycled plastic, the latter, a traditional wedding fabric re-interpreted.
This, most conceptual of exhibits is so stimulating, inviting the viewer to reconsider what white means to them – a visual form of word association (more to come on this). What does white suggest to you?