“A house is not a machine to live in. It is the shell of a man—his extension, his release, his spiritual emanation.” – Eileen Gray
What is classic? What is modern? What is timeless design? What is forever and eternally New?
I have always been drawn to everything that is not a trend. I sometimes coincide with a trend by mistake or the fact that I live in New York City, but when I look up my design heroes, I rest assured that the North Star of timelessness is creation that feels ancient to the soul and is ever- present within it.
The muse for this season came serendipitously from my dharma. I found myself drawing a sketch that seemed quite “phallic” as per Steph’s observation (7/14/2022). “I don’t want to be drawing this,” I told her.
The next day I was in Ireland for a wedding. In my spare time I went to the National Museum of Ireland where an exhibit on Eileen Gray is permanently on display. I didn’t know much of her work besides her furniture design, especially the tubular-steel ‘Adjustable Table E1027’.
Gray was the first designer to use chrome, before her contemporaries Le Corbusier or Mies van der Rohe. I began an exhilarating journey to learn about a woman who was one of the best creators that ever lived. Painter, sculptor, photographer, artist, designer and self-taught architect —her dragon chair still holds the record for the highest paid price for 20th century furniture at auction. She never got to see this reality and, like many women, she undervalued herself and her excellence.
I realized she was the one to channel this season as I found the sign in the similarity of my “phallic” drawing that I had done the day before. In a sketch of “Plan for Tour de Neslie’ rug. Immediately, I sent a photo to the team.
It was the ultimate cosmic joke sent from a woman with a clear sense of humor (this is especially true if you know the stories behind the Corbusier’s murals in Gray’s E1027 villa). The journey of paying our respects to Eileen Gray began.
Gray lived 98 years; born in 1878 in Enniscorthy, Ireland and died in Paris, France. Her life spanned the dawn of the industrial revolution, two world wars, the moon landing—what had been one of the most consequential periods for humanity. Everything from her Victorian era attire as a young woman to her sharp tailleur in her Rue Bonaparte apartment expresses unapologetic chic.
There is so much wealth to the story of her life, the only way to encompass most of it is at an essence level. Her passion and curiosity guided her in an uncompromising life with artistic integrity. When planes came into existence, she learnt how to pilot them. She flew across the channel in a biplane in 1913, and received one of the first driving licenses issued in Paris. She trained and excelled in Japanese lacquer work. Her screens are upheld as some of the world's finest examples of the art.
She constructed her villa E1027 in the South of France for her then-lover Jean Badovici between 1926 and 1928—arguably the first piece of modernist architecture ever built.
Le Corbusier painted eight large, colorful, sexually-charged murals in the house during the summer of 1938, at the invitation of Badovici. His seemingly concerted campaign to undo the achievement of villa E1027 cost Eileen both her intellectual and physical property rights. Her right to be recognized as its architect was finally restored by Jean Rykwert in 1968.
Many of the modern furniture pieces she designed for the villa remain in production to this day, including her ever-enduring 'adjustable table', commercially known as the 'E1027 Table'. It was designed in 1925 for her sister, who ate breakfast in bed, to hold her dining tray above the bed, minimizing crumb spillage.
She served Love. The code name E-1027 is derived from: E for Eileen, 10 for Jean (J is the 10th letter of the alphabet), 2 for B(adovici) and 7 for G(ray). For Gray, love was fluid—she had a long and important love affair with Marisa Damia, one of the most famous Parisian singers of the day. She closed her beautiful gallery Jean Desert (where her pieces and acclaimed carpet designs were sold) when her friend Gaby Bloch took up with Marisa Damia. She kept a photograph of Marisa in her mantle in Rue Bonaparte for the rest of her life.
Almost every major piece of furniture she designed was for somebody she loved.
A polymath, she had a unique aesthetic; elegant yet essential, demanding function as well as form from her innovations. All of her resonated with us.
We honor Eileen not only in the collection but also in the set design.
One of my favorite architects Ricardo Bofill passed away last year. Helped by the force that drives us, my dear friend and filmmaker Clara Cullen (who shoots our shows as well) introduced me to her brother-in-law Pablo Bofill. I am so humbled that they agreed to collaborate with us. Because only love for creation could let us have “la ciudad en el espacio” as our set. This impressive work made the show for us.
And the sound of love with no spotlight. Just how EG would have liked it.
Ricardo Bofill’s The City in Space, a utopian idea that transformed all perceptual and design aesthetics and gave way to the “Now as Future” is at the heart of the Ricardo Bofill Taller de Arquitectura collaboration with Gabriela Hearst.
“The stance of ideal architecture is to a certain extent one of rebellion, of disagreement with the way cities are planned. Utopian architects then create images of the future city, but since they lack a new work method they continue to comply with traditional rules. An anti-conventional system was therefore tried out that we regarded as effective when it came to defining a formal hypothesis in the certainty that it could subsequently be executed.”
– Ricardo Bofill Taller de Arquitectura 70’s collective
The synthesis of geometric and volumetric configurations that connected radicalism and Mediterranean housing traditions, was imagined as a structural matrix that agglutinates cubic cells and forming units, nuclei and bodies; that with the increase in density becomes more open, porous, aerated and svelte.
Newness is the driving force behind this engaging design. Regardless of the medium, be it fashion or architecture, all design is a constant exploration of how the present can be pushed just a little bit further to create a novel experience, hence the connecting dots of this collaboration.
“Ask yourself: what is the human being but a garment and what is the world but the living garment of God? If language is the expressive garment of thought, then clothes are the expressive garment of the body. Nature and life itself are but one garment woven and ever-weaving from the loom of time.”
– Thomas Carlyle, Sartor Resartus (1834)
The materials used for the structure are from deadstock/leftover from previous projects. The reflective floor will be donated to the Materials for the Arts - a creative reuse center working with public schools and arts centers. The structure itself will be reused by Gabriela Hearst for a future installation.
Live performance by Sumbuck Sumbuck; a slang found in the last pages of a good book, is the pen name of Taylor Meier. Here he curates a wide sonic palette, ever changing members and moods - all the songs about Love in one way or another.
The songs chosen to accompany the runway show are from an unreleased record, to be finished early spring. “The City” has emerged as a talisman for the album and is one of the focus tacks for the show. The song is about collectiveness, recognizing poisons to the spirit, it’s about surrounding yourself with Love and lending it to those around you. The city has your back. There is a feel change towards the end, a slowness, and a pulse where we can breathe, and grasp these ideas for a little.
Sketch from Gabriela Hearst
Black ‘Brick screen 1923-25. Lacquered wood. Steel rods.
This season, we collaborated with one of the longest-established shoemakers in England, Tricker’s–which was founded in 1829. Tricker’s shares with Gabriela Hearst values of uncompromising standards of craftsmanship and use of honest materials. Values that have been preserved and developed, in Tricker’s case, through five generations. Every pair of Tricker's is handmade within their Northampton factory in England by craftspeople using traditional methods, and to the same exacting standards that first established their reputation. There are 260 processes used to make each pair from start to finish.
His Majesty King Charles III awarded Tricker’s his Royal Warrant in 1996.
We used Olivvia leather for our collaboration with Tricker’s. Based near Stuttgart in Germany, Wet-Green have developed a very special tanning brew using the leaves of Olives; this brew has been patented and is named Olivenleder® (Olive Leather in English). What is special about Olivenleder® is that it is an entirely organic brew (edible in fact) and therefore extremely clean. All waste can be used as a natural fertilizer including the leaves and leather shavings. Olive leaves are entirely sustainable, a waste product of the Olive Oil industry, millions of which fall during the Olive harvest and are traditionally burnt. Olivenleder® can be used by approved tanneries–those allowed to work with the brew must meet specific criteria set by Wet-Green and run a designated tanning line for Olivenleder® to ensure no non-organic matter contaminates the process.
Over the past couple of years, Tricker’s have been working alongside Wet-Green and world-renowned German Tannery, Weinheimer, to develop the very best leathers, those suitable to be used on Tricker’s shoes. These leathers have been named Olivvia. Tricker’s Olivvia Deerskin is fully traceable and a bi-product of the food industry.
All our Tricker’s shoes have a Goodyear Welting construction. In a Goodyear welt, the outer sole is sewn to the welt, the cavity between the welt and insole is then filled with a layer of cork, which molds to the wearer’s foot, providing insulation and comfort. The cork is then covered with a leather mid-sole for protection. Due to the construction method, Goodyear welting means that it is much easier to resole a Goodyear welted shoe because the welt acts as a buffer between the insole and the outsole.
HIGH-LEG PLAIN DERBY
The High-leg plain Derby is an archival men’s officers boot style that has been exclusively developed for Gabriela Hearst.
This style is exclusively made for the collaboration with Gabriela Hearst.
CALVERT HIGH LEG OFFICERS'BOOT
This style is a fresh interpretation of an archival Trickers’s officer’s boot. We removed the toe cap, making it an exclusive for Gabriela Hearst.
Structured bag with an internal frame and slotted screw head clasp as a nod to Gray's work. It comes with a stripe handle inspired by paintings Gray created in the 1920's.
Shoulder bag with an extended flap featuring a leather-covered structured handle inspired by Eileen Gray's plain chest in her workroom- something she'd touch every day.
ENAMELED METAL CASE
Rose gold evening clutch with stone embellishments, an enamel lid and a turquoise closure.
3 HANDLE HOBO
A slouchy Nappa hobo with two interior leather handles and a leather-covered metal handle.
A leather printed geometric linear design inspired by one of Eileen’s lacquered screens.
Inspired by Eileen’s screens, the Lacquered Tote comes in many materials including cashmere, Nappa, suede and a low-impact water-based patent leather.
The ebony and 18K rose gold jewelry is hand-made by a small atelier in Manhattan’s 47th street jewelry district.
Each link of the articulated bracelets and earrings, inspired by Eileen Grey’s screen designs, is hand-assembled and hand-polished and, in the case of the wood, individually carved.
CHRONOLOGY OF EILEEN GRAY
Birth of Kathleen Eileen Moray Smith- Gray on 9 August in the family residence of Brownswood, in County Wexford, Ireland.
Enrolled in the Slade School of Fine Art in London to study painting. A year later she began to learn the technique of lacquer work in the workshop of D. Charles in Soho.
Enrolled in the Académie Colarossi and then the Académie Julian in Paris. She exhibited a watercolour in the Salon of the Société des Artistes Français in the Grand Palais.
Settled in Paris and the following year bought an apartment at 21 rue Bonaparte which she lived in all her life. Beginning of her collaboration with the Japanese lacquer worker Seizo Sugawara.
Opened a carpet workshop with Evelyn Wyld and a lacquer workshop with Sugawara.
Exhibited several works at the 8th Salon of the Société des Artistes Décorateurs, including Le Magicien de la nuit [The Night Magician]. 1914 The couturier Jacques Doucet bought her screen with four panels, Le Destin [Destiny], and went on to commission different pieces of furniture from her.
Decoration of the apartment of Madame Juliette Mathieu Lévy, the rich owner of the Suzanne Talbot fashion boutiques, at 9 rue de Lota, Paris.
17 May: opening of her Galerie Jean Désert at 217 rue du Faubourg Saint- Honoré, Paris.
Exhibited a suite called Chambre à coucher boudoir pour Monte-Carlo [Bedroom-boudoir for Monte-Carlo] at the 14th Salon of the Société des Artistes Décorateurs.
With Jean Badovici, designed and built the E.1027 villa at Roquebrune-Cap Martin.
The Galerie Jean Désert closed down.
Start of the construction of her villa Tempe à Pailla, in Castellar, near Menton.
Presentation of her project for a Holiday Centre at the Paris World Fair in the Pavillon des Temps Nouveaux of Le Corbusier.
Worked on her last architectural project, the Lou Pérou house near la Chapelle Sainte-Anne on the outskirts of Saint- Tropez.
Awarded the title of Royal Designer for Industry by the British Society of Arts.
Eileen Gray died in Paris on 31 October.
Set design: The materials used for the structure are from deadstock/ leftover from previous projects. The reflective floor will be donated to the Material of the Arts - a creative reuse center working with public schools and arts centers. The structure itself will be reused by Gabriela Hearst for a future installation. All other materials in the space are rentals (including set flat walls).
Materials: In RTW, we used recycled materials, such as the eco cashmere boucle, double face recycled cashmere and recycled cashmere felt. As well as deadstock fabrics such as the pinstripe wool and the superfine wool suiting.
In Shoes, we used Olivvia leather for our collaboration with Tricker's which is tanned using the leaves of olives. Olive leaves are entirely sustainable, a waste product of the Olive Oil industry, millions of which fall during the Olive harvest and are traditionally burnt.
In Handbags, we used a patent leather which is water-based, while traditional patent leather uses chemicals.
The carbon emissions from this show will be partly removed through Climeworks and the balance will be offset. Climeworks uses a technology called ‘direct air capture’ to capture carbon dioxide directly from the air. When removed air is combined with underground storage, it allows the permanent removal of excess and legacy CO2 emissions, which can no longer contribute to climate change.