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Print Chameleon

Pierre-Louis Mascia’s Autumn/Winter 2010-11 collection features a fascinating array of classic and contemporary prints.

Fashion illustration is part of the French cultural history: France set the standard for this art already in the 1800s, and, in 1908, the Gazette Du Bon Ton, boasted a team of artists – including Lepape and Barbier – who soon became known for their accurate and evocatively elegant works. Illustrator Pierre-Louis Mascia is a modern representative of this long tradition, but, in the last few years, he diversified his skills and branched out into the world of fashion.

His first forays into fashion design resulted in a collection of scarves and bags, and, for the next season, Mascia added to his range luxurious unisex jumpers in a wintry palette, that includes shades of brown, grey and plum. His main Autumn/Winter 2010-11 collection of scarves is characterised by a riot of prints and includes antique laces, animal and flowery motifs, polka dots and vintage tapestries, but the designer and collaborator of fashion magazines Elle, Vogue US and Vogue Japan also launched a special collection of scarves in bold colours. The latter features prints of his own elegant illustrations that convey fashion’s sensual promise in a confident and fluid style that mixes René Bouët-Willaumez, Rene Gruau, Jean Cocteau and Pop Art.    

Dazed Digital: For the next season you have widened your product range with a collection of jumpers, what prompted you to go towards this direction?
Pierre-Louis Mascia: I sort of felt like expanding a bit and try to create a sort of perfect outfit. I started with the Maurice Ravel bag, then added scarves and now classic jumpers that have a modernist twist about them. In a way, this is a natural progression, a way to grow taking one step at the time. Maybe next time I will add a pair of sneakers, but, for the time being, what I know is that I will keep on preserving my way of working, adding just one piece in every new collection and making sure that all of the designs can be worn by both men and women.

DD: What inspired the new collection?
Pierre-Louis Mascia: I was thinking about a forest, but painting it in my imagination with the colours of winter, adding to it prints of vintage lace and styles borrowed from the 60s. I love decontextualising an idea or juxtaposing different things, and, for this collection, I tried to imagine a chameleon out of its tropical habitat, living in a European wood. People think that if you do flowers, you have a romantic style, if you do animal prints, you’re trying to be sexy, if you do stripes you are going down the Sonia Rykiel way. I don’t care about such preconceptions, I like mixing a bit of everything together because I want to make sure my designs can offer the wearer a wide array of emotions. This is why in my case animal prints are just one side of the coin, and, if you reverse the scarf and hide away the animal motif, you will look entirely different.

DD: The new collection also features a series of scarves with prints of your illustrations, how come you never thought of doing them before?
Pierre-Louis Mascia: Being a fashion illustrator and working as a fashion designer I know very well which are the differences between these two worlds and I also know that sometimes people prefer artists to have only one well-rounded personality. I felt I still hadn’t found the right way to connect these two universes before and maybe the time wasn’t ripe. Then I experimented for a while and tried to transform in my imagination a piece of silk into a sheet of paper on which I can draw a story or conceive it like a painting that can be hung on a wall and I finally came up with illustrations that balanced style and fashion with sensuality. I wanted to inject in the illustrations used for this collection a bit of sensuality since a scarf is something very personal and intimate because you tie it around your neck and, when you wear it, you don’t show the entire print, but only some parts of it, and keep all the drawing for yourself.  

DD: You showcased your collection at different fashion fairs and tradeshows using portraits made with iron thread, who made them?
Pierre-Louis Mascia: Julie Gauthron, a very good friend of mine. She’s an architect and likes working with iron thread. I’m naturally drawn to art and artists and I found her work very interesting because it’s not decorative, but reminds of Jean Cocteau’s style. We came up with a sort of gallery of portraits that perfectly complemented my scarves.  

DD: You recently uploaded on your site videos that show how to wear your scarves, what inspired them?
Pierre-Louis Mascia: I don’t want to explain people what they have to do with a scarf and how they should wear it, but many people contacted me asking how to tie my scarves, maybe to get an idea for a new style, so I asked a friend to shoot a video of myself doing it. Then I realised that different people have different ways of tying their scarves, so I started asking around my friends how they did it and it soon became a sort of fashion viral!   

DD: What are you working on at present?
Pierre-Louis Mascia: A series of illustrations for Vogue US.

Pierre-Louise Mascia is at the Touch! neoZone cloudnine, Milan, until 2nd March, and at Paris’ Premiere Classe from 5th to 8th March.
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