The current lack of art openings is challenging if you are a fashion designer beloved of a clientele that frequents art openings. Happily for Arthur Arbesser, his pressures in that regard have been slightly offset by his other work designing costumes for theater and ballet productions—these are going ahead, albeit audience free.
So fashion-wise, as Arbesser reported gamely this afternoon via Zoom, he is keeping on keeping on: “I made this deal with myself, I thought it's really important, even if it’s small, to do a collection every six months and to keep writing my chapters.” Reflecting the narrowed horizons to which all of us have been subjected, this collection replaced his usual expansive span of reference for more personal points of departure. The start was an old and well-used painter’s palette and an old and well-used harlequin toy, both of which he picked up for a euro in one of Milan’s many flea-markets last year.
These were developed into prints and patchwork fabrics, and then inserted within a collection that was rich in revived deadstock and updated Arbesser ideas and informed by the Italian accented art of Royal Academician Joe Tilson. A brush stroke printed fabric from two years ago was dusted down, inverted and turned into pleated skirting. Old season brushed wool was overdyed and turned into mini skirts that complemented harlequin patched mohair knits, some of which were sized for Arbesser’s male fans. A 200-meter bolt of upcycled silk jersey was fashioned into flowing pajamas which contrasted with the rigid silhouette of buttonless liner vests and waistcoats.
The resulting collection was photographed in a friend’s art studio to create a series of hopeful postcards to a future in which canapé trays once more circulate, warm white wine is once more quaffed, and canvasses are once more passingly scrutinized in salons crowded with intellectual dressers. Bring. It. On.