Liberty Fabrics: Atelier Shoot
Couture storytelling with Liberty Fabrics, in the new-season atelier shootRead more
To showcase Spring/Summer 2021’s Atlas of Dreams collection, Liberty Fabrics staged an atelier shoot with freelance designer and art director Alexa Papavasileiou. Before moving to London, Athens-born Papavasileiou trained in Paris as a womenswear designer working within the atelier teams of fashion houses such as Giambattista Valli and Lanvin. For the Private View photo shoot, a close-knit team set about organically draping, cutting and pinning to capture the fluidly imaginative couture possibilities of Liberty Fabrics. We spoke to Papavasileiou, along with our own Liberty Fabrics Design Director Mary-Ann Dunkley, about bringing the prints to life.
What are the inspirations for the prints in this collection?
MAD: For Atlas of Dreams, we were inspired by Liberty Fabrics’ longstanding history of taking the landscape as subject. The collection takes the form of a whirlwind cross-continental trip, focusing on four diverse landscapes of ‘Tropical’, ‘Desert’, ‘Coastal’ and ‘Meadow’.
What was the purpose of the atelier shoot?
AP: We played with notions of abstraction and movement. Our vison was to focus on expressing the potential of each design, and how it can inspire a certain kind of garment style without being prescriptive. MAD: We like to inspire our customers with Liberty Fabrics, without dictating what they should do with them – we respect our customers’ imagination and appetite for discovery. It is important to show the way the fabric relates to the figure – each design is its own masterpiece, and the images provide a frame for the spirit of the collection.
Was it beneficial to be able to show the fabrics on both model and mannequin?
AP: The human figure gives instant context to the viewer, whereas the mannequin offers abstraction. Finding the balance between the two was the narrative thread I kept in my mind. MAD: A mannequin is useful to show scale and proportion, but the model helps us to see how movement can create shapes – this is when the fabric really starts to show off!
What was the atmosphere in the studio like during the shoot?
AP: We were in a setting that had incredible light, with a very small, close team. I enjoy intimate shoots as people tend to tune into a creative flow, and you can really push yourself. With Mary-Ann we were clear from the start that we wanted to allow the creative process to unravel organically. I draped each design on the spot without a preconceived idea of the silhouettes. Everything was quick – cutting, pinning, placing. You had no time to overthink things. It was a refreshing way of working and a great creative challenge, as well as a total team effort.
What makes couture fitting such a unique way of working?
MAD: The atelier is the place where fabrics are transformed and take on their new life. The work of the textile design team is done, but the creative journey continues in the hands of designers, sewers, tailors and photographers, to capture the magic. AP: Couture fitting is all about working with the moment, with a certain feeling, creating a dialogue with the fabric. It always tells you how it wants to drape. You are creating purely for the joy of creating – this was the feeling of spontaneity that informed our attitude for this shoot.
Did the qualities of the collection’s diverse prints and bases inform the ways you chose to style them?
AP: Pairing prints together while playing with scale and silhouette was the key driver to my approach. Liberty silk is incredible to drape with – it just moulds into shape and reflects the light so beautifully. For the large-scale prints softer shapes came to mind that enveloped the body, while for the more micro-scale prints I was inspired to create cleaner silhouettes and details. Tana Lawn™ has a light, crisp hand which made it a great medium to express the latter.
How do you hope the shoot will inspire Liberty Fabrics customers?
MAD: It is lovely to see larger pieces of the fabric, so the customer can decide if they want a statement piece or just a hint of fabric as a highlight. Maybe it will draw them to a design they may not have noticed in the collection – hopefully it will invite them to follow their curiosity.