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Yesterday at Skylight Clarkson Square, Alice + Olivia Founder and Creative Director Stacey Bendet presented her spring 2018 collection in the venue’s second gallery. An immersive experience was created, inspired by the rooms and famous residents of The Chelsea Hotel. Benedet invited a handful of artists—including Jemima Kirke, Tallulah + Scout Willis, Lola Schnabel, Angelica Hicks, Lucy Sparrow, Francesca DiMattio, and Blair Z—to create their own reimagined hotel rooms, providing the creative backdrop for the new collection.
“I feel strongly supporting females who are breaking through the creative barriers, and really committing to originality and imagination,” said Bendet. “I’m thrilled to provide them with a medium to showcase and bring their work to life.
To hear more about the new collection and the artistic collaboration for the presentation, we spoke to designer Bendet and artists Lucy Sparrow and Francesca DiMattio.
WHITEWALL: Tell us about your new spring/summer 2018 collection. What was the starting point? Any particular sources of inspiration?
STACEY BENDET: It is colorful and full of prints and whimsy! The collection was inspired by the iconic Chelsea Hotel. The clothes have the spirit of both the artists that lived there and the hotel interiors.
WW: Freedom of expression is of great importance right now, especially for women. How does Alice + Olivia stand enable them?
SB: As a company of 400 women, female empowerment has always been at the center of our corporate ethos. I take huge pride in creating an environment where women can experience balance—both career and a life, marriage, motherhood, etc. In terms of freedom of expression, I think every brand has a voice and in this moment in history it is so important to use that platform for social and political causes. We have created a company-wide call to action program called the Alice + Olivia Community, and within that, one of our projects is the Communi-T, which are our call to action t-shirts that allow us to share messages that are important to us with our customers and the world. 50% of net proceeds from our Communi-T shirts go to Global Fund for Women.
WW: Your studio is a wonderfully inspirational space, too. How did you execute the overall design? Are there any specific creators that you really connect with, or find yourself gravitating to time and time again?
SB: Robert Couturier is like my work husband! His interior design genius is everything! He is working on our Miami flagship right now and a new apartment for my family. In terms of art, Julian Schnabel just did the most incredible Francisco Goya-inspired painting of my three daughters. Julian’s daughter Lola and I just collaborated on a print—she is one of my favorite modern day painters!
WW: Lucy, we originally saw your Sparrow’s Deli at SCOPE Miami Beach last year, and at The Standard, High Line earlier this year. Tell us a bit about how you got started working with that material. Are you following that thread for this room?
LUCY SPARROW: I started working with felt at a really early age. In fact, I recently found my first felt creation—a Christmas decoration that I made in 1992 at age six-and-a-half! Felt is brilliant to work with, it comes in so many colors, that provide the perfect palette for recreating a wide range of products. For 8 Till Late, my felt bodega at The Standard, we shipped nine tons of work from the UK, which took nine months to research and create—a lot of felt. I’m so excited to be back in NYC for fashion week and to collaborate with Alice + Olivia—the team visited the bodega so we’ve worked together to create a similar vibe but with some very personalized touches based on their vision and collections.
WW: Francesca, your sculptural work is beautiful. What can we expect to see in your room at the Alice + Olivia show?
FRANCESCA DIMATTIO: I am showing a ceramic sculpture and a large painting. Stacey told me her inspiration for the show was the Chelsea Hotel. I grew up a few blocks away and went to play dates there when I was a kid. I remember the lobby jammed with paintings all over the walls and sculptures hanging from the ceiling. I knew I wanted to show both.
WW: What was your starting point? Any particular inspirations?
FD: I always start with iconography and materials associated with the feminine and then find ways to morph and change how we are use to seeing them. For Elephant Candelabrum, I replicated a Rococo elephant candle holder and paired that with a very rough and volcanic texture. Instead of a delicate porcelain sculpture decorating a table the sculpture seems to have absorbed the furniture in the room. It stands on four legs without a pedestal.
I am interested in putting imagery together that references different time and place. Things that shouldn’t be together. Through the making of the painting or sculpture these differing gestures blend into a new hybrid language. What seems so different—a gilded delicate porcelain elephant and bulbous lava glaze become related and the lava glaze starts to look like elephant skin. I like when proximity to difference changes how we see things.
I knew I wanted to show a painting with pattern. I am interested in using floral patterns in ways that feel viral. Florals that aren’t polite and seem to be enveloping the elements in the room rather that decorating them.