We Like — Mirror, Mirror…

In a special event leading up to London Fashion Week, designers Peter Pilotto and Christopher De Vos and artists Carla Arocha + Stéphane Schraenen were asked to revisit their previous pioneering collaboration. At the invitation of the curator for the Dutch embassy’s London NL Pop-Up Space, they were invited to make an intervention in the Great Gallery of London’s famous Wallace Collection for an invited audience.

Peter Pilotto archive reflected in the work of Carla Arocha + Stéphane Schraenen

Peter Pilotto archive reflected in the work of Carla Arocha + Stéphane Schraenen

The key elements of this highly effective intervention were the presentation of a large-scale sculpture by the artist duo that played beautiful havoc with the elaborately decorated historic gallery, itself home to some of the world’s most important Dutch and Flemish masters. The mirrored sculpture at the centre of the long elegant room seemed to collapse the sumptuous space into a myriad of reflections and refractions, the vista of some of the world’s most famous paintings slashed apart by images of decorative detail or the elegantly dressed crowd.

The ever-changing surface of the angular work, of course, also reflected the designs from the archive of Peter Pilotto, subtly present in the Great Gallery as worn by guests and muses invited to the reception rather than presented as catwalk or formal presentation. In effect, the art and fashion fused entirely with the highly social reception, evocative of the original scenes that might have taken place in this gallery at this handsome London mansion, formerly the home of the Dukes of Hertford and now a national museum housing one of the world’s most important collections of art and objects d’art.

The event was supported by the ABN-AMRO Switzerland, a collaboration with the embassies of the Netherlands and Belgium and a suitably elegant means of marking the contribution of Dutch and Flemish talent, past and present, to international culture in the run up to one of London’s key fashion calendar weeks.

The Antwerp-based duo Carla Arocha + Stéphane Schraenen have shown work in numerous prestigious institutions and galleries in France, Belgium, Spain and Mexico, amongst other places. In 2009 they were commissioned to make a substantial public sculpture for Howard Station in Chicago and nominated for the Castello 09 contemporary art prize by the panel of nominators that consisted of Cristina Iglesias, Jeff Wall, Daniel Buren, Michelangelo Pistoletto and Luc Tuymans. In recent months, Carla Arocha + Stéphane Schraenen have had highly successful solo shows at both Monique Meloche Gallery in Chicago and at KaBe Contemporary in Miami.

The have known Peter Pilotto and Christopher De Vos since the time that two formidable fashion design talents were studying at Antwerp’s renowned fashion academy where, in fact, the two designers also initiated their own collaboration. Since moving to London Peter Pilotto and Christopher De Vos, designing under the label of Peter Pilotto, have made the fashion house on of the most exciting and important of London-based labels. In addition to the ever-increasing press attention their work commands, their talent has already been readily recognised in the form of numerous awards including the prestigious British Fashion Council’s Fashion Forward 2011 award.

It’s only fitting then that these strong talents who have honed their skills in the Lowlands should be invited to respond to the Wallace Collection’s Great Gallery with its key works by Anthony van Dyck, Frans Hals and Peter Paul Rubens.

Carla Arocha + Stéphane Schraenen sculpture installed in the Great Gallery

Carla Arocha + Stéphane Schraenen sculpture installed in the Great Gallery