Wonderland speaks to fashion designer Emilio de la Morena about the dresses he created as part of the Wood Group Show, open at the Rosenfeld Porcini Gallery.
Currently showing at the Rosenfeld Porcini Gallery in Fitzrovia is the Wood Group Show. Featuring room-filling works by Roberto Almagno, Leonardo Drew, Herbert Golser and Sebastian Gordin, the collection of wooden sculptures somewhat surprisingly is the inspiration behind a line of dresses by Spanish fashion designer Emilio de la Morena. The exhibition is an impressive example of the variety and fluidity you can achieve using wood as a medium and from that Morena created feminine and flattering lines. The dresses weren’t hidden behind glass cases at the opening, they were made to be worn, sculptural yet functional, and were modelled around the room by guests.
While the champagne was flowing and excitement growing at the opening evening of the show, Wonderland sat down with Emilio de la Morena and quizzed him on how he came to create cocktail dresses as a part of a sculpture specific collaboration.
Could you tell us a little bit about the exhibiting artists here and do you have a favourite?
Roberto Almagno! I love all their work and what I find really exciting is that they all work with wood in such a different way, it kind of makes you think ‘Oh my God! That’s wood!’. The way he uses the lines, it touches me somehow, his work is incredible. I mean the rest of them are incredible, I love Herbert Golser the work is really really beautiful with the slashing and the cuts of the wood. I think it’s the fluidity, it’s so elegant. Maybe it translates easier into dresses, maybe when I was thinking about them it made it easier.
Many companies work with galleries can you tell us about what you think the link between fashion and art is?
I think there’s a real logic link, just because they’re both beautiful. For us, for Emilio de la Morena, we just love it, it’s just something that’s really honest to the brand. I just really enjoy it. Whenever I come back from Paris, the first thing I do is go to an exhibition, just to lift me up! I love colour, I love shape, I get really excited by sculpture so I was really excited to work in this collaboration. But in general, I think it’s a very logic coming together. Picasso designed costumes you know, artists and designers have always been working together, and Dalí – the lobster dress – for me it’s something, personally what I like.
You’re showcasing your iconic sculptural dresses, what are you sources of inspiration?
My approach to this collaboration changed, we’ve been working on this for a while, I always thought I was going to create something really really special and sculptural but the more I actually worked on the dresses, the more it felt actually a little fake.
I kind of stopped and realised, the thing for me that is really important is that the environment with the art and it is very important as a designer to keep true to what I do. So I stopped and changed a few times, I went from black to all these details of wooden things and then I thought stop stop stop stop stop! What is it that I really love? I love colour. In a way you come here looking at beautiful wooden pieces and you come out with something completely different.
I decided to be really me because these artists are presenting something that they do, this is their signature work. So I thought, let’s only go for cocktails dresses, let’s only do this, and then it went from more complicated to more simple.At the end of the day, if a dress is sculptural and no-one wants to wear it what is the point?
How do you express your Spanish roots and how does that reflect in your work?
That’s a really interesting question actually. I think when I started my first collection was super-Spanish but I used to think being Spanish was a bit uncool being amongst all the London designers so I started to ignore it. Maybe for about two years now I’ve been thinking, embrace it! Why not? And it comes out sometimes, the dresses are ultra sexy body con for a strong woman but then I have this kind of feminine, pleats and ruffles, kind of energy you wouldn’t get from a fitted dress.
The way I see being Spanish, it’s more from an energy, more from a feeling rather than polka dots and flamenco. That’s how I see it.
As a designer, who or what are your long term influences from art?
There’s a fight inside between what I like and what I find aesthetically pleasing, sometimes you set yourself to do something but when you’re finished with it you don’t like it. I want it to be me but somehow I don’t like it. You have to stop and do something else.
Designers like Cristóbal Balenciaga are an inspiration because I feel like he never made mistakes. As a designer you have to think, is that a mistake, or is that fresh?