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Studio Rousseau’s ‘The Art of Couture’ unveils fashion-inspired artwork at NYFW exhibition

The Statesman was invited to visit a closed exhibition of Caroline Rousseau fashion inspired paintings. “Untitled 5” drew its inspiration from the fashion designs of Ivan Delogu. ADRIENNE ESPOSITO/THE STATESMAN

On Saturday, Sept. 9, The Statesman was invited to visit a closed event at the Studio Rousseau Art Gallery in New York City for the annual New York Fashion Week (NYFW). The gallery exhibition, titled “The Art of Couture,” showcased a stunning collection of artwork inspired by various impeccably designed fashion pieces. 

Artist Caroline Rousseau based the paintings on the works of several fashion designers, from well-known curators like Jean Paul Gaultier to up-and-coming ones such as Carson Lovett. With this captivating fusion of art and fashion, some important sociocultural themes emerged, including the importance of sustainability and the role of women in society. Described below are some of my favorite pieces from this exhibition.

Rousseau uniquely used oil-painted canvases for almost all of the displayed creations. This was especially evident in Rousseau’s piece “Untitled 5,” which drew its inspiration from the fashion designs of Ivan Delogu who was heavily influenced by his Sardinian culture. Delogu ingeniously combined materials such as mosquito netting sourced from Southern Italy, enhancing his works with intricate embroidery. Delogu also noted that Sardinia has a matriarchal society — an important detail he wanted to emphasize in his pieces. 

In her interpretation of Delogu’s fashion collections, Rousseau skillfully incorporated Sardinian influences in “Untitled 5,” exploring the complex symbolism embedded within his pieces. Rousseau’s artistry astonished me, particularly with the Picasso-esque structural elements and the striking use of contrasting colors, which breathed life into the reimagined works of Delogu. 

Designer Carson Lovett attended the event. Lovett’s recent fashion collection, “Bells and Whistles,” seamlessly added a modern flair to traditional Bohemian styles. One particular outfit from his collection, bursting with a lot of vibrant colors and shapes, inspired Rousseau’s “Untitled 2.” 

Rousseau incorporated these lively colors in addition to several heart-shaped elements in her artwork, effectively emphasizing the outfit’s playful and joyful essence. She explained that, while at first glance the artwork may look like it was pieced together randomly, it was actually a conscious choice and an artful embrace of chaos in an organized manner.

My favorite piece of the night was “Untitled 1,” inspired by another design from Lovett’s “Bells and Whistles” collection. I was impressed by Rousseau’s interpretation and her ability to capture the essence of the outfit without copying it directly. She incorporated key components from the outfit, such as the delicate lace from the shoes, which demonstrated a keen eye for subtle detail. Like “Untitled 5,” this was more of a structured oil painting, whereas her other Lovett-inspired piece was much more abstract. In a unique and immersive presentation, the dress itself graced a mannequin right next to the painting. The juxtaposition of the two works was extremely visceral and allowed viewers to truly see the fashion’s influence on the artwork.

The works mentioned above are only a small sampling of Rousseau’s brilliantly captivating exhibit. Even those who are not usually fans of art can appreciate Rousseau’s work. A virtual gallery will be available for viewing on her website after the live exhibition ends.

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