As highlighted in a previous post, the Autumn/Winter 2010 designs by the late Alexander McQueen showed a clear derivation from the art world.
The collection also included a few evening gowns with prints of grisailles and, if you are a fashion design student or like experimenting a bit with clothes and fabrics, I think this technique would be worth rediscovering.
A popular technique between the 14th and 15th century, especially in the Netherlands, grisaille painting was mainly executed by applying different shades of one colour such as grey or neutral tones.
In this way the artist was able to play with different shadings and stark dark/light contrasts.
Grisailles were often made as preparations for paintings or as models for engravers.
But there were quite a few artists such as Robert Campin, Hugo van der Goes or Jan van Eyck who created grisailles for their own sake.
The most interesting examples of such illusion are The Virgin of the Annunciation from Hugo van der Goes's Portinari Triptych and the Annunciation Diptych by Jan van Eyck.
So here’s an exercise for fashion design students reading this blog: moving from a grisaille and studying also McQueen’s last designs, try to recreate optical illusions in a dress only using different shades of grey and neutral tones and maybe adding further contrasts, depth and movement by juxtaposing fabrics with different weights (remember: no embellishments likes beads, crystals, etc.).
This exercise should be intended as a way to play with different degrees of reality. For further information about the grisaille technique, check out the following video about a previous exhibition on Jan van Eyck and grisailles that was organised at the Madrid-based Thyssen-Bornemisza Museum.
The video perfectly summarises the main themes of the exhibition, shows examples of this technique and explores the artistic and social implications behind this technique (check also the silk mitre with black and white drawings at the end of the video, could that maybe provide you with further inspirations?)
A very final note: the grisaille was often employed to show that painting was a superior art compared to sculpture. Will you manage to show through your creation that fashion is superior to painting and sculpture?
Member of the Boxxet Network of Blogs, Videos and Photos Member of the Boxxet Network of Blogs, Videos and Photos Add to Technorati Favorites Lijit Search