Did you know that Juvenal Sansó once became a textile designer in Paris?
Throughout history, art and fashion have shared the same language of beauty. Sure, they have different purposes and meanings, but they both come from the same branch of visual craftsmanship. Many times we have seen them merge into a beautiful display. There are the Mondrian sheath dresses by Yves Saint Laurent and the Dalì-inspired models by Elsa Schiaparelli. Locally, paintings by fashion influencer and actress Heart Evangelista have been depicted on ready-to-wear pieces for women. This time around, we were presented again with another clever take on fashion with works from Manila-based fashion label Septième Rebelle as they partner with Fundacion Sansó for a collection inspired by Spanish-born painter Juvenal Sansó.
With his surreal bouquet paintings set in vivid colors and his dream landscape, the master painter Sansó created an indelible mark on the local and international art scene, which ultimately turned him into a Presidential Medal of Merit award. But what many didn’t know about him is that he also dabbled in fashion as a textile designer while he was a student at the École Nationale des Beaux Artes in Paris in the 1960s. As a means to support himself when the Central Bank set limits on the financial support that could be sent by his father from Manila, Sansó’s hand-painted textile designs depicted flowers and foliage, as well as geometric shapes and abstract patterns that are so beautiful, the first Casa di Balenciaga became one of its biggest customers.
These works became the ethos of Robbie Santos, founder and creative force behind Septième Rebelle, for his latest collection. A self-confessed fan of the artist’s masterpieces, the designer creates a connection between his experience as an up-and-coming stylist inspired by art and Sansó’s period in fashion many years ago.
“He was still new as an artist. I feel a certain level of parallelism with Sansó in a way that I’m also starting my life as a fashion designer sixty years later, ”says Robbie. “I think there’s a connection between what he’s done and what I’m doing for the collaboration.”
Presenting an elegant retrospective on Sansó textile design, Santos took two different paths for his new collection. First, the process of digitally printing Sansó’s original hand-painted designs onto fabric and the making of dresses from the produced printed fabric. The result of this process are the pieces with pictorial motifs in the collection. The second, arguably more arduous task was to use the inspiration he drew from Sansó’s paintings to find fabrics that embody the aesthetics presented in the artwork, and to design and create clothing from ready-made fabrics.
Santos allowed his influences and personal aesthetic as a designer to flow into his work. He, who has followed design courses in prestigious institutions such as the Marangoni-Paris Institute, the London College of Fashion and Central Saint Martins, is deeply influenced by the fashion of the 90s and cites greats such as Jean-Paul Gaultier and Gianfranco Ferré as major influences. He has a personal preference for asymmetrical details; diagonal cuts and cuts have become distinctive elements of his work. Santos had to balance all of this with the aesthetics of the 50s and 60s, which inspired Sansó’s textile designs, and the sensibility of contemporary fashion, while staying true to his brand’s promise, to Rebelle.
Septième Rebelle’s capsule collection using Sansó’s textile designs is a nod or a bow to the fashion revival after World War II, when a young Juvenal Sansó made a contribution to fashion as a stylist for fabric houses and ateliers at the abroad; and the confident rebirth of high fashion after the limits imposed by debilitating blocks. More than a showcase of wearable art, the collection is also part of the fundraising efforts in partnership with Fundacion Sansó.
Also on display are the limited edition Septième Rebelle embroidered bags with motifs inspired by textile designs. The production design was meticulously thought out and supervised by the creative genius, Vince Uy. The curation of the artwork to complement the fashion show was correctly done by the director of the Fundacion Sansó, Ricky Francisco. The style of the space has been muted in shades to highlight the bold colors and prints of the capsule collection. The foliage accents that descend from the ceiling and cover the exhibition areas were inspired by some of Sansó’s paintings. Mannequins on loan from luxury fashion distributor Noble House have shaped the entire capsule collection. The 38 looks have been segmented according to the color palette juxtaposed to Sansó’s actual paintings. Caro Wilson’s accessories were carefully selected by Santos to complement the pieces that were modeled at launch.
“The collection that I am making in collaboration with Fundacion Sansó must elevate,” says Robbie. And with vibrant prints, colors, shapes and patterns, his collection in collaboration with Fundacion Sansó is a show of positivity and joy in the midst of the pandemic war we have today.
“Sansó Textile Designs X Septième Rebelle: A Fashion and Art Exhibit” will be on display until December 20, 2021 at Galerie Joaquin, One Bonifacio High Street Mall in BGC. Follow @fundacion_sanso and @septiemerebelle on Instagram.
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