Imagine a home with sofas, rugs, pillows, and walls painted as if in a harem. There are paintings and books all over. Amidst the voices, noises, and laughter, someone is reading or painting, while another sews, embroiders, draws, takes photographs, writes, or rummages through left-over yarn. In the country, they bring back to life old abandoned buildings. They build furniture and objects and decorate fabrics, ceramic objects and bowls. They dig in the soil, water plants, trim trees, pick fruit, and take the dogs out for a walk.
Lea observes, smiles, and records the scene. She presented them to me in... Un altro tempo [the “another time” exhibit] ... They have returned – Vanessa, Virginia, Edith, Violet, Vita, Hilda, Dora, Helen, Jessica, and Dorothy – and it’s as if they have never left. They are always near yet far, continuously searching for another place, another island where they can stop awhile.
They are friends, these insolent women, who have caused scandal and triggered fierce disagreements. Bold and unconventional, polemical and provocative, and blessed with irony and sarcasm, they seek to define what is beautiful and true beyond convention, in complete freedom and with irreverence.
They are eccentric and cosmopolitan. They are not simply extravagant because “eccentricity is not just extravagance: it is primarily nobility of spirit and manner.” I think of their clothes in... Another time ...
They shun fads and prefer wearing clothes that express their spirit and faithfully reflect their complex personality. They blend materials, shapes, and prints, luxurious jacquard wallpaper motifs in crimson and ecru devoré velvet and rough masculine tweed, windowpane check wool, pinstripes, and mélange Prince-of-Wales check.
Gray and brown fabrics borrowed from Saville Row tailor shops are brightened with unexpected splashes of color such as dazzling yellow, deep fuchsia, intense white, and bright red. Fil coupé jacquard, silk twill, cavalry with Lurex threads, and thick Chanel and silk organza fabric, heavy cotton satin with trailing decoupé flowers in vibrant shades or black and white stripes are featured. Fragments are extrapolated from their work. Small details are reworked and recreated on prints, organza, and traditional British plaid combined with Chantilly lace. Fabrics that are seemingly very different are, due to an absurd alchemy, combined and blended to tell a story about city life. They are then rearranged and used with country elements to narrate tales about the country.
Vintage menswear jackets in tweed and Prince of Wales checks are brought back to life in a fresher, new version, assembled together and embellished with rustic embroidery. Army blankets that once covered old sofas or humble beds are turned into oversized greatcoats with an exuberant mixture of inserts made of luxurious fabrics alternating with velvet and nubby tweed. Rose-covered fabric inserts, floral elements, macramé lace, and striking traditional embroidery.
They enjoy playfully separating, rearranging and combining roses, beading, and lace. They create chaos, a hodgepodge of vibrant fragments, and yet they seek symmetry through these endless contrasts. They recreate new figures through contrasts of dark and light, kaleidoscopic rainbows of SWAROVSKI ELEMENT crystals, luminous effects, and a combination of merging elements which are used to express themselves and their fascinating dichotomy and oxymorons that exist within and finally emerge.
That’s how I see them dressed, surrounded by art, literature, travel, the city, country, trees, gardening, past and present, each in her own world.