Fashion

An Exclusive First Look at Gray Matters's Spring 2018 Collection

Gray Matters takes its wearers to new heights by using unexpected materials like Marble. A work of art has never been so functional as footwear.
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At the intersection of art and fashion, shoe label Gray Matters aims to make women's footwear less traditional by incorporating the least expected material – marble. Using ancient Carrara marble sourced from Italy, the brand’s designs reimagine typical women's footwear – standard heels are replaced with lightweight marble cubes and geometric blocks, while classic silhouettes are innovated through leathers and suedes in eye-catching colors. By collaborating with painters, sculptors, and artists, including Pari Ehsan and Fernando Mastrangelo, Gray Matters’s Spring 2018 collection transcends expectation.

Launched in 2016 by designer Silvia Avanzi, Gray Matters is influenced by Silvia’s native Italy and her adoptive city of New York, both rich in art and history. She cites the architecture of the new Whitney Museum designed by Renzo Piano, the Noguchi Museum’s Fernando Gonzalez exhibition, and the strong design culture in Milan, as sources of great inspiration. Made by three generations of expert shoemakers in Venice, the brand uses geometry, organic shapes, and unique textures to reinterpret the mid-height heel.

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With quirky aesthetics informed by French fashion photographer Guy Bourdin and a cinematic color palette reminiscent of art photographer and filmmaker Alex Prager, the new collection’s launch campaign transports you to unexpected places with its striking detail. Featuring Ehsan as muse and model, and photographed in Mastrangelo’s East New York studio, the juxtaposition of architectural materials with the brand’s elegant designs create an artistic feast for the senses. “For Spring 2018, we wanted to recreate the feeling of an art gallery focusing on shape, material and texture,” shares Silvia. “The human element becomes part of the art being showcased, seamlessly interacting with it and speaking the same visual language. We have a strong fan base among designers, architects, artists and gallerists – they love our aesthetics and the way we shoot our products as ‘design objects’ rather than shoes, always finding the perfect balance between form and function. We find Fernando and Pari’s work synergistic, with a potential to push the boundaries of our concepts.”

“A postmodern assimilation of references, a conversation between mediums and the ability to traverse it all is what first led me to Fernando,” Ehsan says, “We met by chance one morning at the Guggenheim [Museum] and I’ve been wanting to interact with his work, which crosses sculpture and design with the painterly, ever since.”

 

Doubling as wearable works of art, the Spring 2018 collection belongs as much on view in a gallery as it does on your feet – the hand-painted marble heels and Marmo design embrace a quiet sophistication that is a subtle reminder of sculptures one would see in a museum or while traveling abroad. “There are two historical masterpieces created in marble that represent the quintessential beauty and strength of the body,” Avanzi explains, “the renaissance David by Michelangelo and the neoclassical Le Tre Grazie by Canova. Both are made of a unique quality of marble called ‘statuario’, distinctive for its white color and gray veins. We replicated the statuario details in our Marmo slingback styles”.

 

Versatile, timeless, and ageless, the Spring 2018 collection can easily be worn from day to night, in the gallery or out in the city. “The Gray Matters Woman is more about her strong and independent spirit than her age,” Avanzi shares. “She can be in her 20s or 50s, always confident and with a great sense of aesthetics. She doesn’t take herself too seriously.”

 

Photography Charlie Schuck

Prop Stylist Natasha Felker

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