Fashion and art have come together once again, as Rachel Mansur and Floriana Gavriel are putting a sculpture spin on their eponymous brand's Italian-made handbags. A few weeks after presenting their Fall 2019 wares in an immersive fruit market environment at New York Fashion Week, the duo has announced a new capsule collection in collaboration with the Calder Foundation, which features a selection of Alexander Calder's iconic works on Mansur Gavriel's most successful bag styles.
The designers each have backgrounds in the arts, having long enjoyed exploring exhibitions, so putting Calder's work on their creations was a natural choice. The collection highlights four of the artist's creations—untitled mobiles from 1955 and 1972, an untitled gouache from 1974, and 1941's Vertical Foliage—as graphics on as many bag styles. In projecting these works into two-dimensional images on the leather accessories, Mansur and Gavriel find a new way to captivate an audience with Calder's motion focus. This time, the world can watch how the established art sways as the bags make their way into street style.
The collection is available now at Mansur Gavriel's website and physical stores as well as MatchesFashion and select Hauser & Wirth galleries. Below, Mansur and Gavriel spoke with L'Officiel USA about the collaboration, their love for Calder, and where they stand on whether fashion can be art.
How have your arts backgrounds contributed to this collaboration and when did you first discover Alexander Calder’s work?
Rachel Mansur: We have always been interested in art and are very inspired by museum exhibitions, galleries, and artist books. We love traveling and visiting many exhibitions, taking in different mediums and environments. Calder’s work has always been iconic for us. His expression of color and form is both bold and delicate and appeals to our aesthetic very much.
Can you talk about the process of conceptualizing and designing this new line?
RM: We have looked through Calder’s work and loved many ideas of incorporating it into the bags. We went through many trials and the process took us months. In the end we decided to work with a combination of his iconic mobiles as well as a two-dimensional work. We silk-screened them onto our iconic bag shapes: the Bucket Bag, a tote, and our Circle Crossbody. We also added them to our classic Attaché.
© 2019 Calder Foundation, New York / Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York
With the new collaboration, you've gotten literal with art, turning hanging sculpture designs into 2D graphics on your bags. What do you think is the impact of this?
Floriana Gavriel: We wanted to create a clean, powerful statement expressing the works—we love using simple yet powerful forms as a vehicle for color or material, so it was an amazing opportunity to present Calder’s work in this way. We love the crisp silkscreen on the warm, glowing vegetable-tanned leather.
Fashion and art are constantly coming together, yet the "Is fashion art?" debate stays as heated as ever. What do you hope this new capsule adds to that topic?
RM: Fashion must address functionality within the context of commercialism in a way that art does not. We enjoy the challenge of creating accessible, functional, everyday beauty. Our inspiration is driven by art—the abstract emotion of more conceptual ideas such as color, line, form, and texture.