Juvenal Sansó dabbled in fashion as a textile designer while he was a student at the École Nationale des Beaux Artes in Paris decades ago.
History shows us that more often than not, the results are amazing when fashion and art meet. Take the Mondrian shift dresses by Yves Saint Laurent and Elsa Schiaparelli’s Dali-inspired designs, for example.
Such is the case with Manila-based couture label Septième Rebelle whose collaboration with Fundacion Sansó is inspired by the work of no less than Spanish-born painter Juvenal Sansó.
Sansó dabbled in fashion as a textile designer while he was a student at the École Nationale des Beaux Artes in Paris in the 1960s, as a means of supporting himself when the Central Bank had set caps on the financial support that could be sent by his father from Manila.
The artist’s hand-painted textile designs depicted florals and foliage, as well as geometric shapes and abstract patterns. His biggest client was the House of Balenciaga.
Septième Rebelle founder Robbie Santos is no stranger to Sansó’s work as a patron of the arts himself. But the artist’s story of working as a young textile designer in Paris may have added another dimension to the designer’ appreciation of the renowned painter, prompting a vision beyond his that of an art connoisseur.
“He was still new as an artist. I feel a certain level of parallelism with Sansó in a way that I’m also starting my life as a fashion designer—sixty years later,” Santos says. “I think there is a connection between what he made and what I am making for the collaboration.”
Although separated by half a century and belonging to different generations, their experiences are similar: both artists took a step away from their respective chosen mediums to see how one another’s medium could fuel one’s creative pursuits.
Drawing from Sansó’s work wasn’t easy for Santos. He had to take two different paths for his new collection. First, the process of digitally printing Sansó’s hand-painted original designs on fabric and making clothes from the printed fabric produced.
Resulting from this process are the pieces with painterly patterns from the collection. The second, arguably more daunting task was using the inspiration he got from Sansó’s paintings to find fabrics that embody the aesthetic presented in the artworks, and design and create clothes from ready-made fabrics.
He allowed his influences and personal aesthetic as a designer flow into his work. Santos, who took design courses in esteemed institutions such as the Istituto Marangoni-Paris, London College of Fashion, and Central Saint Martins, is deeply influenced by ‘90s fashion, and cites greats such as Jean Paul Gaultier and Gianfranco Ferré as major influences.
Santos has a personal preference for asymmetric details; diagonal cuts and slashes have become trademark elements in his work. He had to balance all these with the aesthetic of the ‘50s and ‘60s—which inspired Sansó’s textile patterns—and the sensibility of contemporary fashion, while staying true to the promise of his brand—to Rebelle.
The capsule collection by Septième Rebelle using the Sansó textile designs is a nod or a curtsy to the revival of fashion after the second world war, which was the time a young Juvenal Sansó made contributions to fashion as a designer for fabric houses and ateliers overseas; and to the hopeful resurgence of high fashion after limitations set by debilitating lockdowns.
More than a showcase of wearable art, the collection is also part of fundraising efforts in partnership with Fundacion Sansó.
“The collection that I am making in collaboration with Fundacion Sansó has to uplift,” says Santos. He wishes that the designs, which stand out for their vibrant prints, colors, shapes, and patterns, would positively shift the mood and enrich the souls of spectators and eventual owners of his avant-garde, made-to-order pieces.
Sansó Textile Designs X Septième Rebelle: A Fashion and Art Exhibit will be on view until today, December 20, at Galerie Joaquin, Bonifacio High Street. For more information, visit @fundacion_sanso and @septiemerebelle on Instagram.
Banner Photo: Marina Benipayo