Arthur Arbesser has always used art as a springboard for his cerebral designs, so it was only natural that the muse for his spring collection should be an artist herself.
While the lineup was anchored in his Austrian heritage, with geometric prints that harked back to the Vienna Secession, he spliced in an eclectic Italian reference in the shape of sculptor Fausto Melotti. A contemporary of Lucio Fontana and Gio Ponti, he is the subject of an exhibition at the Hauser & Wirth gallery in New York.
Arbesser imagined a female alter ego for Melotti, dressed in clothes inspired by his little horse sculptures and ceramic bowls with marbled and metallic glazes. The primitive horse figurines appeared as a naïve pattern on midi dresses and skirts; the porcelain surfaces translated into shiny effects that ranged from a dusting of sequins on a checkered slipdress, to a flashy copper lamé short-sleeve shirt.
It requires a certain confidence to pull off Arbesser’s aesthetic, with its intrepid sense of layering and eclectic mix of mannish checks, harlequin motifs and bold stripes — a signature of the brand.
A sheer lozenge-patterned dress was overlaid on a checked bodysuit so that the two motifs appeared to merge, while a workwear-inspired jacket in a brushstroke-patterned jacquard was paired with a sequined skirt, open-toed gray vinyl booties and a floppy yellow hat.
Arbesser said his side gig as creative director of outerwear label Fay has freed him up to express his artistic side with his own brand.
“I luckily develop a small but very honest fan club of women. Some are older, some are very young, but it’s the nice thing that, thank god, some of these clothes really speak to different ages of women, and this is something I’m very proud of,” he said. Thinking girls will no doubt agree.