Arthur Arbesser delved into his own upbringing, finding inspiration predominantly from the paintings of Viennese artist and close family friend Heinz Stangl. As a result, the catwalk in Milan featured bold acidic yellow and green shades, as well as the vibrant pinks and purples reminiscent of Stangl’s palette.
Geometric designs, inspired by Stangl’s bold kaleidoscopic painting style were also a prominent feature of the collection, as well as the reoccurring hand motif which portrayed both the gestures and movements of the artist and encompassed a broader theme of the collection to depict the body as a moving entity.
Known for his innovative use of fabrics and shapes, this theme of body movement is expressed predominantly through the drapery and structures of the fabrics used in Arbesser’s clothing. The ruches, folds, plissés, knots and ripples exhibited created movement and allowed the collection to be multi-dimensional. As a result, the SS18 collection marks a new more feminine-tailoring approach for Arbesser, whose previous collections have largely featured androgynous tailoring.
The SS18 collection is not the first time Arbesser has used the patterns, colours and themes depicted in Stangl’s art. The bold colours and sharp tailoring used in one of his first catwalk shows (his SS14 Collection) were also inspired by Stangl’s work.
However, unlike his 2014 collection, where inspiration arose from the two more complementary areas of Viennese art and Viennese architecture, in this collection Arbesser combines more juxtaposing elements of Stangl’s bold and provocative art, with the femininity and strength inspired by women of the Russian aristocracy.
In particular, Arbesser used his long-term interest Tatiana Romanov and her sisters to counterbalance the vulnerability and provocative depiction of women often present in Stangl’s work. As a result, the bolder colours inspired by Stangl are softened by the use of lighter shades and light-weight fabrics, as well as the more subdued striped pattern, which has now become a hallmark of the Arbesser brand.
Arbesser has created a collection which finds a perfect balance between bold vibrantly coloured prints and delicate femininity and, despite his inspiration deriving from a rather eclectic mix of pre-revolution Russian women and contemporary art.