A.I. GRAND TOUR

by Maria Rossi

photography Olimpia Rende

18 July 2016

The latest chapter of A.I. celebrates what is arguably the most trailblazing of travel adventures: the Grand Tour.

It channels an intimate aura of an era where traveling was a way of returning to one’s self through the first hand discovery of the unfamiliar Other. The purpose of A.I. is by no means nostalgic; as it focuses on the evolution of languages and techniques compatible with the present. Whether it’s the exploration of the “Romantic Chemistry” between science and philosophy or the minutiae of the micro mosaic, the different designers’ creations presented in this Grand Tour edition have in common their search for beauty, never getting caught up in just the cultivation of technical bravura and mannerisms. 

The designers pieces are interspersed by installations created by British artist Ophelia Finke, who is presently showing a cross-over project between Paris and London titled Explorers.

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The patina covering the relics of Rome has always fascinated designer Gergei Erdei. The handmade dyes, obtained by mixing natural pigments that garnish the textures of his pieces, render intact the lived-in feel of the Grand Tour dandies’ wardrobes.

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Travel is again the inspiration behind Theodora Bak’s intervention on a wardrobe staple such as the cape. Precious materials like silk, wool and cashmere twist the common utilitarian nature of this piece (top left).

The honed artisanal skills of Lanificio Cesare Gatti integrate delicate pastel hued textures in the cashmere of the stoles, scarves and accessories by Cesare Gatti —heir of the family business.

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Haett offers an update on another Grand Tour staple: the Macarones hats. Although the Dutch milliners’ creations are crazy enough to be utmost contemporary.

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Different angles on construction are offered by the couture silhouettes by Gattinoni (top) working around more architectural shapes on the one hand, and the dresses created by Hungarian designer Boglarka on the other, whose textures employ Comatesque flooring and goldsmiths techniques on dressmaking.

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The painstaking work of precision of the micro mosaic technique above is still carried out by a few workshops such as the Ferrari 137. Replicas and typical scenes are reproduced in those unique tiny ornaments.

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Maria Sole Ferragamo (top left) imbues her accessories with the construction technique of her architectural background. Her interwoven leather pieces create natural cages that surround one’s neck and hips, in reminiscence of Renaissance ruffs and crinolines. A shared love of science and philosophy leads the experimental work of Celeste Pisenti and Stefano Russo in the creation of their jewel like neo-classical accessories, concocted with the confidence of inventors.

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Jarring installations by artist Ophelia Finke pop here and there amongst the exhibition pieces. White is the common denominator through which Ophelia translates her own personal recollections into large “dream-like disasters” with a focus on the concept of travel.

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Diverting slightly from the Grand Tour typical route is the reference to India, both in terms of artisanal technique and fabric sourcing, in the work of Japanese designer Masakatsu Tsumara. Pops of color combined with hand-made textiles characterize his contemporary view of white shirting with a touch of artisanal expertise.

A.I. Grand Tour — curated by Clara Tosi Pamphili and Alessio de’ Navasques — took place from July 8th to 10th, 2016 at Ex-Dogana in Rome.

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