Photo: Ian Reid
Seeing the new collections on parade is always a bit of a tease. Personally, I like a sugary hit of instant gratification in my bowl, and I’m always itching to try a new look the moment a designer has taken their bow on the runway. That antsy wave came crashing down on me pretty heavily at Chanel and Celine a few weeks ago. I’m a sucker for a bold painterly print and both collections were covered in gorgeous freeform brushstrokes: at Chanel they were either made to imitate the gradations color on a nineteenth-century sample palette or graffiti sprayed walls, and at Celine they had all the energy of a tribal artwork.
Left to right: Celine spring 14, Chanel spring 14. Photos courtesy of vogue.com
Entering those keywords into a google search for clothes a couple of weeks later didn't throw up anything much. I did manage to find a vintage hand-painted sweater on Etsy that used the same primary colors I had seen at Celine, but when the package arrived in the mail the overall effect was more wacky outsider art than abstract expressionist masterpiece.
It was only after randomly rummaging a rack of samples at my friend (and menswear designer) Aurelien Arbet’s studio in Brooklyn that I found something that came anywhere close—a black button-down shirt printed with splashes of Yves Klein Blue. Etudes, the label Arbet co-founded with Jeremie Ergy, encompasses a lot more than just clothes: the pair regularly pull together photography books that fly off the shelves at Colette, and share a background tracing back to the Parisian graffiti scene.
Left to right: Etudes shirt, pants and hat. Artwork by Pia Howell.
This particualar print was made in collaboration with a young Brooklyn-based artist called Pia Howell specifically for fall. Arbet spotted her work in a gallery in Philadelphia and commissioned her to make a few custom patterns based on the exhibit. The print comes on a baseball hat, baggy pants and a men’s button-down that is so oversized it basically drowns me to the knee—which I kind of love. It's actually what i'm looking forward to wearing over ripped up Levi’s this winter…while I patiently wait (and save my pennies) for spring.