Who? Felicitas Volk
What? Neo.Fashion.: Graduate Shows and Awards
Where? Berlin Fashion Week
Why designs by Felicitas Volk matter?
The work of American artists Georgia O’Keeffe and Joan Mitchell inspired designer, Felicitas Volk, to create the duo collections, “it’s your world for a moment” and “City Landscape”, respectively. Art and fashion are not a new concept nor is the work that comes from cross-discipline inspiration, but Volk experiments with inventive applications to textiles, encouraging an evaluation of her work with the masterpieces of O’Keeffe and Mitchell.
“It’s your world for a moment” collection presents a sculptural replication of O’Keeffe’s Grey Line with Black, Blue, and Yellow (1923) painting through a labor intensive fabric stripping, painting, and sewing process. Incidentally, O’Keeffe’s first solo show in France is currently exhibited at the Musée National d’Art Moderne-Centre Pompidou. O’Keeffe’s Grey Line is considered abstract or near abstract because the use of lines and color could represent an object of beauty in nature, a flower, or the female anatomy.
Volk was drawn to O’Keeffe’s work with flower motifs and Grey Line centered her focus on a floral, organic application on the garments. She describes her process, “I cut many narrow strips of fabric, which I painted with various blue, red and orange textile colors, based on the colors of the artist. I then sewed the strips close together on the fabric, so that an organic, fringed application was created based on O’Keeffe’s flower motifs. As in many of Georgia O’Keeffe’s pictures, the collection combines the reference to nature with painterly abstraction as well as the organic and the geometric. That is why the flat, geometric cuts create a canvas-like character and convey the feeling of a “portable” picture.”
Volk says the title of the collection, “it’s your world for a moment”, comes from a famous quote of the artist.
When you take a flower in your hand and really look at it, it’s your world for the moment. I want to give that world to someone else. Most people in the city rush around so, they have no time to look at a flower. I want them to see it whether they want to or not.
– Georgia O’Keeffe, Brainyquote
“City Landscape”, the title of a painting by Joan Mitchell, painted in the 1950’s, and title of Volk’s collection takes a look at the city. “City Landscape”, which is currently in SFMOMA’s exhibition A Creative Force: Joan Mitchell, is clearly non-objective, there is no representation of a city, however, because of its title, the art community suggest the hand of the artist. The Art Institute of Chicago, who acquired the work in 1958, said in a statement on their website, “Mitchell painted large, light-filled canvases animated by loosely applied skeins of bright color—here infused with the energy of a large metropolis. The title suggests a relationship between the painting’s network of pigments and the nerves or arteries of an urban space.”
Yes, “art speak” sounds good, but is it really the intent of the artist? Volk is captivated by the painting (it is a favorite of mine) because it is abstract. She likes the energy, chaos, bright colors, looseness and tangle of lines and splashes of paint. Her interpretation of the painting in her collection won’t appear abstract, in fact she brings a more representative take on an urban environment, with grit and graffitti-like elements, and playful exaggerated shapes.
Volk’s inspiration went further than just viewing the painting. She describes the use of paint in her process, “the outfits of the collection are my personal interpretation of the artist’s pictures, combined with the spray technique of graffiti. I sprayed the fabric with textile paints, painted it with oil pastels and developed various lettering with the help of self-made stencils. I chose the words based on quotations from Joan Mitchell. Joan Mitchell’s inspirations were often water, cypress trees and sunflowers, that’s why I decided on the bright colors green and yellow as well as “sunflower”, “cypress tree” and “Lake Michigan” as lettering, which in this design is reminiscent of a street art wall in the middle of an urban, colorful city.” Volk likes to work with volume, shapes, and color, along with textile design and processing. You can see all of this in her eye-popping flounce and ruffle silhouettes.
“A Look at EDGE” curates a select few of Neo.Fashion.21 designers whose collections make socially relevant statements and offer storytelling through a fashion lens we don’t often see. Volk, who is fascinated by art and fashion, proves that the human body can be a medium of art of its own kind. She is a textile artist and the industry must make room for talent like hers. In these two collections, Volk is inspired by the work of visual artists, but what about collaborations? Creative collaborations may help us advance inventive new ideas that propel less is more – we need less fashion brands, less clothes, less harm to workers and the environment. We need more imagination that can be guided in a responsible way.
Feature Image: Designer, Felicitas Volk | “Neo.Fashion. Graduate Show” of Best Graduates Show & Award at Mercedes-Benz Fashion Week“ at the Mercedes-Benz Fashion Week Berlin September 2021 at Kraftwerk on September 8, 2021 in Berlin, Germany. (Photo by Robert Schlesinger/Getty Images for Neo.Fashion.)