One September morning, half a year into the doom and gloom of the pandemic, Nana Aganovich woke up telling her husband and design partner Brooke Taylor she needed “huge amounts of pink,” he recalled.
Given their proclivities toward period dressing and darker palettes, it certainly sounded out of character and caused a double-take upon entering their atelier.
Yet even if the collection, titled “La Rose en Vie” (or the living rose, in English) started as a full-on exploration of a color with many cheery meanings, it still found dark depths from which to draw unease.
If anything, the digital format served Aganovich better than most. Their severe silhouettes, accompanied by a ghostly tinkling sound, were even more discombobulating when coming into view on screen as they would in real life — think horror movie “The Ring,” but make it couture.
Every silhouette started with a tailored dress shape, in hand-dyed organza and satin. Embellishments expressed traumatic aspects of the female experience. Cage-like panniers became a metaphor for fashion’s influence — cumbersome at first and eventually swallowing the body whole. “Imagine being so desperate to be seen as pretty and ending up devoured by this thing,” Taylor said.
Elsewhere, hand imprints on a crushed velvet gown suggested physical assault. A slash on the back was the wound left behind by the cutting words of street harassers. Giant clothespins and a haphazardly stapled seam down the front retraced the dehumanizing medical bedside manners of male doctors, inspired by Nana Aganovich’s recent personal experience.
The pair wouldn’t be drawn into offering further explanations, having made the decision to let viewers process their own reactions to these discomforting silhouettes. “We actually think the female body and fabric are two of the most extraordinary tools for women to express how they feel about their bodies,” Taylor said. Enough said.