Tuesday, June 16, 2015

BEAUTY: Clothing--Richard James

Toby Lamb, design and brand director at Richard James, designed the house's Spring Summer '16 collection, shown at London Collections: Men, since James himself is still on a year-long sabbatical. But Lamb must be receiving post cards from James who must be touring Latin America, considering the Fall Winter collection with its Chilean-Andean theme. And this season here we are, in the jungles of Mexico at Las Pozas, a sprawling, dream-like concrete compound cited by Lamb as his inspiration.

In 1945, the Las Pozas estate was created by Edward James (he was the American-British son of William James, heir to the 8,000 acre James family estate of West Dean House in Sussex, and an openly bisexual poet) more than 2,000 feet above sea level, in a subtropical rainforest in the mountains of Mexico just outside the town of Xilitla. James was a patron of surrealist art and artists which included Salvador Dali whom he supported for all of 1938! His surrealist art collection included pieces by Giorgio de Chirico, Paul Klee, Leonora Carrington, Pavel Tchelitchew, Pablo Picasso, Giacometti, and Max Ernst among others; James was painted not once but twice by René Magritte, and photographed by Man Ray! In this spirit, he created, on some 80 acres, a surrealist fantasy of strange structures up to four stories tall, turrets, steps/ramps/walkways and footbridges with fanciful curlicues, and buildings (with hidden rooms and staircases that go nowhere) with names like the House on Three Floors Which Will in Fact Have Five or Four or Six, the House with a Roof like a Whale, and the Staircase to Heaven. After James' death in 1984, the estate fell into ruins but in 2007, the Fondo Xilitla, a foundation that will oversee the preservation and restoration of the site, acquired the property.

Lamb plastered thick jungle prints, mostly in green (in fact, the show's title is "My Green Trauma") all over his pieces. Literally. Head to toe. On each tropical linen suit, each espadrille. I am reminded of how English country homes put toile de jouy or a cabbage rose chintz on every surface. It is a dizzying, disorienting sensation in a room since it does away with depth perception: one can't tell where the chair or sofa stops and the wall begins. But on clothing, it is intriguing: one doesn't know there is a tie or a button shirt under the jacket until close up. In this way, the details are hidden, camouflaged, as jungle animals hide themselves among the greenery. Oh, and the shoes are all of the print too! Wild!


And here are some images of Las Pozas. Sharp-eyed readers might recall a past posting here on "Oh, By The Way" about a fashion photo shoot at Las Pozas with Tilda Swinton shot by Tim Walker for W Magazine!


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