The New York-based brand will release four bags in early October that serve as canvases for Calder's artworks.
It’s been nearly a decade since Rachel Mansur and Floriana Gavriel crossed paths at a concert in Los Angeles. The visionary duo clicked over a common interest in fine art and vegetable-dyed leather, and in the spring of 2012, the New York City-based luxury label Mansur Gavriel launched to critical acclaim, selling out their signature red leather-lined black bucket bag shortly thereafter.
Mansur, a RISD graduate who specialized in textile design, and Gavriel, who studied photography and fashion at University of the Arts Bremen in Germany, recently revisited their fine art backgrounds for a landmark collaboration with the Calder Foundation in partnership with mega-gallery Hauser & Wirth. Mansur and Gavriel have since created a Fall/Winter 2019 capsule collection rife with modernist motifs, each of which honors the illustrious 20th-century sculptor’s oeuvre.
“There are many qualities of Calder’s work we relate to as creatives: purity of color and form; a sense of whimsy; a very specific relationship between color and material; and a beautiful and elevated aesthetic message that is also easy to understand and relate to,” Mansur and Gavriel tell artnet News. “We love his site-specific works, and are very interested in the intentional presentation of a work within a specific environment or context.”
With reference to select artworks in the Calder archives, Mansur Gavriel will unveil a quartet of limited-edition handbags starting on October 2. Four classic Mansur Gavriel silhouettes serve as stylish canvases for four Calder artworks: a colorful untitled mobile from 1972 contrasts with the the Mini Bucket Bag’s black leather composition; an untitled gouache and ink on paper from 1974 adorns the Circle Crossbody in Cammello, a tan color; the Large Tote features Vertical Foliage (1941), a sheet metal, black paint, and wire mobile; and an untitled mobile from 1955 with black, red, white, and yellow accents complements the Cammello-toned Attaché. “We liked the idea of combining [Calder’s] iconography in conjunction with our classic silhouettes,” Mansur and Gavriel explain. “The combination felt bold and energetic.”
Calder bequeathed a monumental legacy for his far-reaching practice. After studying painting and drawing in New York City, Calder relocated to Paris in 1926 and assimilated amongst Europe’s vanguard artists with ease. It was in fact the French provocateur, Marcel Duchamp, who first referred to Calder’s suspended masterpieces as “mobiles” in 1931.
Indeed, Calder remains best known for inventing the mobile, an unprecedented reimagination of sculpture made from wire, sheet metal, and paint. Calder defied the conventions of his craft by yielding three-dimensional artworks free to balance and rotate in space; but he also painted, drew, designed jewelry, and forged grounded sculptures, which stand in museums, galleries, and public spaces across the world as mammoth tributes to Calder’s genius.
The Mansur Gavriel x Calder collection marks the brand’s second collaboration with an artist—the first of which came by way of a partnership with the legendary Marc Camille Chaimowicz in the spring of 2019. “Like Calder, Marc is a very intentional and sensitive colorist,” Mansur and Gavriel note. “His palettes are pastel, dreamy, soft, but also bold. Marc [also] has a specific interest in pattern. We [too] are very interested in pattern and were thrilled about the opportunity to work with such beautiful surface designs from an incredible artist.”
As art lovers and collectors with a shared affinity for the work of painter and sculptor Nicolas Party, installation artist Darren Bader, painter Allison Katz and photographer Roe Ethridge, amongst others, Mansur and Gavriel have cultivated an art-conscious brand with an appreciation for how the artist’s experimental nature can elevate fashion philosophy.
“Fine art represents purity of expression—art should be unhindered by the necessity of function or commerce,” Mansur and Gavriel explain. “Fashion is also expression, but must fit within a commercial context. To us, the best fashion emotes the nuances of both nature and art’s purity. We are inherently inspired by art and driven by the abstract emotion of more conceptual ideas such as color, line, form, texture. Ideally our pieces present a harmony or beauty that is both uncomplicated and inspiring.”
The Mansur Gavriel x Calder capsule collection will become available on October 2, and will be sold in Mansur Gavriel stores and on the brand’s website, as well as through Matches Fashion, Mansur Gavriel’s exclusive partner for this collaboration.