On Aura Tout Vu Exhibition: the Seven Sensations of Fashion
Good fashion designs encourage you to look, great ones prick the ears of all your senses. This kind of sensory stimulation is the explicit aim of the couture creations of Paris-based fashion house, on aura tout vu. Calais’International Centre for Lace and Fashion began celebrating on aura tout vu’s fashion work on June 14 with an exhibition, Sensations, which will run until the end of 2014.
Sensations is as far from a conventional exhibition as on aura tout vu’s work is far from classic haute couture. Established in 1998 by Livia Stoianova, Yassen Samouilov and Andrew de Sa Pessoa (who sadly passed away in 2005), the on aura tout vu house began by producing accessories and embroidery for some of Paris ’ biggest fashion labels including John Galliano, Givenchy and Christian Dior.
The trio went on to develop their own range of accessories leading to couture clothing production in 2002. By 2004, they had been invited as a guest member of Paris Couture Syndicate – la Chambre Syndicale de la Haute Couture – cementing their status in French fashion. Welding, joinery and sculpture are a mere few of the trades used by on aura tout vu in their fantasy fashion world full of unexpected, sometimes disturbing, techniques. Their name, a slightly colloquial French phrase, roughly translates as “you think you’ve seen it all”; an ironic phrase perfectly defining who they are and what they do in terms of fashion.
Exhibition curator and fashion historian, Lydia Kamitsis, believes on aura tout vu are “a permanent challenge to the dogma of good taste.” The exhibition, Sensations, manifests this lack of conformity into seven sections, each focusing on a different sense – yes seven! – and combines on aura tout vu’s love of poetry with mini stages showcasing extravagant productions and opening up the theatre of the mind.
it freezes the image of beauty, captures it as if by magic,
imprisons it forever…
it holds and transforms the memory of the moment
in order to celebrate that eminently personal visual
Fashion and visuals go hand-in-hand. But on aura tout vu seamlessly weaves the two together, producing optical delights. Differing fabric techniques seemingly merge into one. A notable piece from Summer 2012 depicts the night sky lit up with fireworks through a flame orange fox fur, jet black gemstone, and digital print combination.
The outer skin of a silhouette
Touch the feathery softness,
slide over broken china …
caress and tear up fulfilment
The composed imprints of sensuality
Look at catwalk photos. Walk into a store. The first thing your brain urges you to do is touch. On aura tout vu’s couture creations showcase a level of detail and craftsmanship exceeding our wildest imagination which exacerbates the need to feel and touch tenfold. What appear to be three or four different materials are actually just one. Lace – a favoured fabric – can be three-dimensional, poking out like an exposed rib cage, or smooth to the skin, moving with the ripples of the body.
The snap of defragmentation of light
the whisper of darkness …
the cry of transparency
the whoosh of the precious
close your eyes and hear the sublime
and the unexpected
Chiming, clinking, crackling: these are the sounds that infiltrate our ears when coming face to face with one of on aura tout vu’s creations.
The couturier constructs garments to create a specific sound, rather than letting embellishments control the noise. Watches adorn a dress, ticking the time away. This constant din is joined by familiar sounds made by tapping various materials. Wooden, plastic and metallic thuds remind of a youthful time when, as a child, new surroundings were relentlessly being discovered.
Powdery silk, lemony organza, peppery velvet, skimmed muslin, smoky crystal, charred pearls
…mysterious memories of a previously unknown aroma
Some tricks are evident, others well-hidden. On aura tout vu pushes you to imagine the environment their clothes are built in. Whether it’s being surrounded by a dense forest with the aroma of twigs and leaves or engulfed in marine life through ocean odours, the designers’scent is ever-changing. As Portuguese writer and poet, Fernando Pessoa, once said: “Smell is an odd sense of sight.”
Beauty has a taste …bitter, sweet, salty, acidic, spicy
you give shape to it …
you savour it …
you make it last …
that special moment enjoying something that’s delicious
unleash your indulgent and sensual imagination,
conjure up flavours, colours, unexpected harmonies
Gustatory is a word not often associated with fashion. How can clothing evoke taste? On aura tout vu takes this unobvious sense and transforms it into a collection’s central focus. Such was the case in their AW07 show where picnic utensil prints conjured up sweet and salty tastes in the mouths of watchers. The designers did not stop there. Pushing everything to its limit, on aura tout vu embroidered designs with fresh almonds, creating beautifully edible garments and proving that fashion and food can mix.
Illusion through white light …
A sun-stitched garment,
with a night hemline and starlit embroidery.
Deceptive silhouettes dancing in osmosis
with the chiaroscuro
The sixth sense is rarely explored. In truth, many are unsure of its definition.
The concept of the imaginary is investigated by on aura tout vu; their designs challenging what we believe to be real, fashioning illusions in the process. After all, fashion is fantasy.
Once upon a time, there was a mythical kingdom
The enchanted white of a magical past, the anarchic
white of a dreamlike future, the splintered white of an
enigmatic love …
A seventh sense has been added to the exhibition. It does not exist in reality but on aura tout vu’s series of white dresses tax the senses to the point of creating a brand new one. Gowns feature intricate crystallised patterns reminiscent of an ice queen’s attire, entrancing viewers as they brace themselves for the exhibition’s final room.
Cabinet of sensations
A curiosity chamber waits to be entered where everyday objects have been renovated and given the couture treatment by on aura tout vu. As the exhibition comes to a close, the cabinet of sensations will reveal to you a bedazzled chainsaw sitting among over 30 pieces that have escaped their mundane fate. Disposed to brand the name of on aura tout vu, these once ordinary items verify the fashion house’s panache for sensation.
This whirlwind of sensory experiences is but a mere introduction to on aura tout vu; a brief encounter with the couturiers and their world that is guaranteed to leave a lasting impression. “Faire sensation”means to make an impact in French. On aura tout vu: Sensations, the exhibition, will not let you down.
Calais International Centre for Lace and Fashion
135, quai du Commerce
Until December 31, 2014
All images courtesy of Calais Cite Internationale de la Dentelle / Copyright Fred Collier