“Well, the way of paradoxes is the way of truth. To test reality, we must see it on the tight rope. When the verities become acrobats, we can judge them.”
DELPOZO SS17 Coat (Look 12) Illustrated by NellyAba for The Ecstatic Flash
Sans doute, every Delpozo collection under the direction of Spanish designer Josep Font is an utter fairy tale fantasy. The clothes are otherworldly, the set is oft awash with natural light, the models amble—rather than strut—down the runway as though gliding through some syrupy reverie which is equal measures Roald Dahl, Zaha Hadid and fellow Spaniard Christobal Balenciaga.
The Spanish label’s SS17 delectation, presented at New York Fashion Week, did not veer off its fabled path of constructing a dream of whimsical yet architectural glory: little surprise there. What did surprise me was that seeing the show live was the first time I was struck by the sublime paradox of Font’s oeuvre. These are clothes that are at once sculptural and serous, detailed and restrained: the defile was a parade of maximalism executed with a minimalist’s flare.
Font, originally trained as an architect, engineered a collection that is a masterful confluence of structure and fluidity: laser clean lines in solid and opaque hues both bold and subdued, meet floral concoctions rendered in soft diaphanous silks. Here, a top’s rigid white peplum which resembles an inverted tulip’s chalice— itself festooned with delicate floral appliqué, as is characteristic of much of his work—cups a floor-length skirt that flows from underneath it like a periwinkle river of gossamer; there, nontransparent tangerine and pink bands are stratified with pellucid stripes to form material from which a ballooning trouser, a long pleated skirt and trapezoid maxi dress are wrought; sometimes, the delicacy of white lace pitted against the heaviness of textured fabric: everywhere there is paradox.
Paradox is paramount in this play on floral versus linear, long versus shorts (sic) and uni-directional versus en forme de coquillage:
The alabaster set of the presentation, consisting merely of a complex of white strings suspended in the center of the room, was a bare canvas. Models ceremoniously painted themselves onto the tableau to the accompaniment of live piano music one can only describe as akin to the sound of sunlight dancing on the surface of cascading water. And sunlight did indeed dance on dendritic cascade of floral earrings worn by each model, an adornment that seemed an exaggerated extrapolation of the Spanish Sevillanas tradition of embellished earrings, and a choice that mirrored the variations on the floral fabric theme. The rays danced too on this opalescent fabric of the bell-shaped trousers of the first look and the many other iridescent offerings to follow.
Indeed, “Luminousity” was the title of this collection which refracts inspiration from Spain’s master of light painter Joaquin Sorolla y Bastida and the installations of Korean- American artist Soo Sunny Park. Font weaves light seamlessly into his work through his choice of sheer and gold-flecked materials, and highlights the effect of light through the juxtaposition of these luminous elements with flat, absorbent surfaces. There can, after all, be no light without darkness, as they say. Even the powder blue fabric of a superlative oversize bow of a top is, upon close inspection, subtly tinged with gold specks.
As Sorolla’s work captured the dalliance of sunlight with landscapes and people, and Park’s chain-link fence of the installation, Unwoven Light is transmuted into a shimmering kaleidoscope by glass chips, so too do Font’s clothes both play with and create light. The pieces employ paradox to underscore the effect of light on them.
Looking for Shellfish by Joaquin Sorolla. 1905
Above: Soo Sunny Park’s Unwoven Light. Below: DELPOZO SS17 Look 29. The shadow of Park’s influence is particularly noticeable in the unexpected yet delightful combinations of green and purple.
Yet, even where the opacity is stark, there is a lightness of touch to Font’s Prêt-à- Couture technique. The standout pink cocoon coat with its incisive lines, sharp eggshell trousers paired monochromatically with an equally-clean linen winged blouse, a cropped round-neck jacket finished with a spiral cocoon at the end of each sleeve: these less fussy pieces were interspersed between the collection’s more ornate offerings such as midi and mini dresses sewn from layers of green and lavender silk, mottled as a Curlew’s feathers, that fan out like a butterfly’s body.
This scattering of wholly minimalist looks with unabashedly ornate looks meant paradox was not only built into the looks but between the looks, like a poem that rings more true because its stanzas, in direct opposition to each other, still develop each other’s notions.
Font is a poet, a prismatic poet. The meter of his clothes are measured and the sartorial devices are meted out like rhetoric. Whether it is an expanse of fabric that sweeps the floor, or a geometric skirt that swivels with the gait, he understands that paradox is the most evolved incarnation of truth. Delpozo’s SS17 collection walks a tightrope with remarkable dexterity, shedding light on a designer’s prowess that is as incandescent as his colour palette betrays. His singular beam of light is made broader by this approach, for it is diffused in myriad directions, but comes from a unified source of brilliance.
DELPOZO SS17 Separates (Look 4) Illustrated by NellyAba for The Ecstatic Flash