My first thought when I saw Alexis Mabille's monochromed models for Spring 2012 haute couture week was "The acid coloured faces - they're just like those in the Mannerist paintings!" Now I may not remember what I had for lunch yesterday (or today), but I vividly recall certain things I learned in high school art history, it was the only thing that truly interested me. As a fine art major in university I don't recall coming across this again and therefore re-confirming the information, but I do believe I was shown some paintings from the Mannerist period as an example of something you wouldn't expect to see from the time because they used vivid colours, on the faces as well. However, I should admit it's entirely possibly that I was half asleep and I got confused, because after searching for hours and hours over several days since the collection was shown, I cannot find any evidence of this. I couldn't drop the reference though and start over, because at the very least they remind me of Jacopo Pontormo's acid-hued masterpiece Descent from the Cross (1525-1528).
But it's small consolation, it's not a close resemblance. I might be clutching at paint brushes here. Now I am (almost) convinced I imagined the whole thing. It wouldn't be the first time!
I still wanted to show the collection, for two reasons. I love the colours Mabille chose and the way the faces harmoniously carried through the hue (not at first but it really grew on me) and focussed attention on the head which was adorned with a giant paper rose. According to Tim Blanks, his inspiration was (guess what, not a Mannerist painting!) a photo of Lisa Fonssagrives on a beach "her face suffused with pink from the sunlight coming through her umbrella." Sounds gorgeous, doesn't it? I couldn't find that one either!
And the dresses themselves aren't bad either! Beautiful, actually. Modern classics.
These are my favourite colours from the collection, as shot by Style.com:
Right: I love this shade of gold, very pure and clean, completely devoid of yellow.
The other reason I carried on despite my failed concept is I found some absolutely stunning photos of the collection on Violeta Purple, a gorgeous blog with lots of original photography by Yavidan Violeta, a Mexican-Turkish woman living in Paris. She's utterly charming, signing her posts with a photograph of shoes, her other muse.
Her Mabille photos are so gorgeous and convey the romance of the collection beautifully - the feel is so engaging it makes the standard runway shot seem pointless. Does anyone else wish we could ditch the singular view from the wall of cameras at the end of the runway in favour of something magical, like this?
For more of Yavidan's Alexis Mabille photos including backstage, see Violeta Purple. Enjoy!