Friday, 19 October 2012

The art of neckwear

"I want to keep evolving, I want to continuously push the label further," declares Becky French in her shared studio deep in the heart of East London. Who can doubt her? The emergence of Marwood has been a delight. What began as a working sketchbook of research and exploration in 2010 has since seen the label pleasantly continue on it's journey to create beautiful neckwear that are loved by it's owner and worn time and time again. Its debut collection for AW11 showcased a beautifully crafted range of ties and bow ties made with the finest fabrics such as woven silk, wool and traditional English Leavers lace. Modern and highly considered, Marwood created a range of neckwear that celebrated the traditions and techniques of a rich and distinguished heritage and made use of the most skilled, historic factories and fabric mills across the UK. The Marwood approach is to create products that ignite excitement from discovering something new and unusual, whilst maintaining a strong sense of tradition. We, along with many, fell for its obvious charm. Having gained international stockists including Liberty, Other, Barneys, Kapok, Harvey Nichols (HK), Edifice and Tomorrowland in Japan to name just a handful, the continued rise of Marwood demonstrates that although times are tough, labels with a strong concept and beautiful product can still prosper. The SS13 collection, entitled 'Transparent Grids', showcases yet more evolution on the label's journey.

Having first caught sight of the intricate work during a particularly frantic part of London Collections: Men back in June, I couldn't resist visiting the designer at her studio to take a longer look and to talk through its inspirations. The collection is a collaboration with the artist Toni Davey and is ultimately driven by their shared enthusiasm and interest in the theme of 'transparency' and the love of each others craft.

"Toni was actually my art teacher back home in Somerset and we have kept in touch ever since. She's got really distinctive style herself which includes wearing neckwear and when I updated her on Marwood, she was just really excited by the opportunities around the neck tie. She instantly understood the product and why I was doing it. As for me, I've always loved the intricacy of her work, it shows incredible patience and skill. The more we started chatting, we saw the similarities between a weave and a her work which is always based around a grid, and wanted to explore the variations between both of our practices.

It was lovely working with Toni. As the effect of light can both subtly and dramatically alter the appearance of her work, we were drawn to the idea of screens and transparency. From making our process transparent, for me working with the Swiss cotton to really show off the bare components and making of a handmade tie whilst still being a wearable piece and using Toni's sketchbook we explored her process of design and its various stages inspired the jacquard. It was so interesting for me to see how much the work changed, to work with artworks that I loved and to take it through to being a finished collection that is quite commercial in the end but it all comes from the artwork."
Becky French on working with Toni Davey

As ever, the collection is showcased in an exquisite lookbook shot by Ali Mobasser with art direction from Russell Weekes and French herself but before I share it with you I'd like to offer a glimpse in to the designer's sketchbook which offers visual insight in to Davey's work. With an upcoming solo exhibition at the Beardsmore Gallery, now is the best time to familarise yourself with her transformative three dimensional world.

"In my work the underlying structure of the grid is always present. The grid offers the means to retrace ones' footsteps, to understand the journey, to allow forms to follow a rule or sequence of changes that produce solutions which are pure, logical and visually beautiful: qualities that exist in nature. 

Recently, the use of a laser cutter has opened many new possibilities in terms of scale, intricacy and the ability to produce editions where each identical piece can be individually manipulated to reveal itself in a multitude of ways. There is also something very satisfying about the lasers ability to draw, score and cut in one process." 
Toni Davey on her work


Through the realisation of the similarities between the weave and Toni Davey's process of working with grids, the pair were able to explore and play with both mediums to create something truly special. The resulting lineup of ties, bowties, scarves and braces (a new addition to the Marwood offering) celebrate the various stages of their own processes, showcasing the similarities and differences of each discipline. From initial sketches to final artworks, their working methods were made transparent. Ultimately, a sensitivity to detail and a combination of techniques alongside the ever innovative use of materials has resulted in new jacquards and artworks that evoke fragility yet strength in structure.

Look book shot by Ali Mobasser with art direction from Russell Weekes and Becky French

"I find the idea of 'transparency' very seductive. Half seen, half hidden, partial revelation, allowing sight and light to filter through, maybe exposing secrets." 
Toni Davey

I've certainly been seduced by Marwood's transparency for SS13. Familiar tools of transparency including the veil, the fan and the screen can now be joined by neckwear.

1 comment:

LAT said...

great post, beautiful pictures, nice to see the process of developing these scarfs!


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