Two Masters: Robbie Santos Introduces Another Line Inspired by Juvenal Sansó's Designs - Lifestyle Asia

The collaborative show Voyageur runs until June 28.

Art Lounge Manila marked the opening in the south with Voyageur, which showcases designs of Robbie Santos using the textile designs of Presidential Merit Awardee Juvenal Sansó.

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Before making a name as a master painter, Sansó created textile designs for fashion houses such as Balenciaga. Having just graduated from the École Nationale des Beaux Artes in Paris, he had the foresight to know that immediately competing with European artists for a slot in an art gallery would have been counterproductive.

As an artist, he had a fresh take on colors, patterns, and materials. His designs consisted of abstract geometrics, florals, and other botanicals. He also incorporated freer splashes of color reminiscent of abstract expressionism—a movement that was currently in fashion in America. 

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“We have to remember that America was the new and biggest textile market after the war, and the biggest new segments of consumers were women at home, and the youth,” explains Ricky Francisco, director of Fundación Sansó.

Perhaps those were the intended market of the florals and the geometrics, Francisco surmises.

“But all in all, with the color and loosely recurring patterns, we see a shift in lifestyle—a leisure-loving new market which prefers youthful color and freedom of expression,” he says. “Working with Robbie Santos, we found out that many of the patterns [Sansó] made could still be sourced in today’s textiles, proving the timelessness of his designs.”

Sansó’s stint in fashion allowed him to expand his network. It was during this phase of his career that he met Elsa Schiaparelli. The designer introduced Sansó to Galerie Lucie Weill, who gave him his first solo exhibition. In the end, his strategy of starting out in fashion paid off. 

Second collab

As a fashion designer with an appreciation for fine art, Robbie Santos feels a certain kinship with Sansó. Voyageur is his second collection to feature the renowned painter’s textile prints.

As part of the collaboration, Fundacion Sansó decided which of Sansó’s prints would be translated onto fabric. Santos then based his designs on the selected prints. Sansó’s studies of geometric and floral-printed fabrics inspired Santos to look for similar textiles as well. 

As the name of the collection suggests, Santos takes inspiration from the revenge travel phenomenon. Hence, the pieces are designed for ease of movement. “A lot of pieces are easy to wear—just put over your head like a T-shirt,” Santos explains. “It’s like a deluxe resort collection—cotton blends for men and soft tailoring for women.”

Because Sansó’s work was made in the ‘50s and early ‘60s, Santos makes use of the same classic feminine silhouettes of the era—A-line, flared, and serpentina skirts, plus the profuse use of ruffles and flowers.

“Despite having a timelessly elegant approach, I wanted to offer something new—bra tops, tank tops, T-shirts for the young market,” Santos says. “I also used an embroidery machine to sew ‘Sansó’ as a brand on the pants. This is my take on today’s logo-obsessed culture. The cuts on the pant leg are new—and so is the absence of belt loops! One has to fully examine a piece of clothing to see the details we have put in them.”

The looks in the fashion show and photo shoot were complemented by Riqueza, the exquisite fine jewelry label of Erica Concepcion-Reyes. The exhibit was conceptualized by Vince Uy, with the textile designs on display was curated by Cindel Tiausas of Art Lounge Manila.

These looks were segmented based on the color palette juxtaposed the actual paintings of Sansó. Mannequins on loan from luxury fashion distributor Noble House brought form to the collection. 

Voyageur is on display at Art Lounge Manila at Molito Lifestyle Center in Alabang until June 28. For more info, visit artloungemanila.com.

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