An often intense and enigmatic mood characterised the previous collections created by Latvian design duo Mareunrol’s. Yet Mārīte Mastiņa and Rolands Pēterkops seemed to have added another dimension to their latest collection presented at the recent Hyères Festival. Based on a dusty palette and a deconstructivist approach and featuring sculptural, geometrical and architectural elements, the new men and women’s wear creations by this duo are also characterised by a surreal quality, bestowed upon them by little wooden sculptures of birds integrated in the accessories and the headgear or lifting the edges of the garments. There isn’t anything Hitchcockian about the birds, though, the duo explains: the birds are little reassuring presences borrowed from fables or cartoons that have the power to transport the wearer to another dimension, away from modern worries and anxieties and into a world of social transformations.
The collection turns in this way into a commentary upon Latvian society, but also into a snapshot of contemporary global society, longing to escape from the monotony of an ordinary and oppressive life. The dichotomy between the dull and the ethereal also characterised an installation Mareunrol’s prepared for the Museum Night in Riga. Entitled “Eden” and created in collaboration with a team of local talented artists, the installation took the visitors to a secret garden of Eden trapped inside a building, introducing them to a quiet parallel universe conceived as a way out of the paradoxes and fears of reality.
Dazed Digital: How did you feel about returning to Hyères as last year’s double winners and has winning the previous edition of the festival had an impact on your career?
Mareunrol’s: We were very happy to return and once again meet the organisers and all the other people involved in the festival. The audience enjoyed the collection a lot, so we were all very happy! Winning last year’s edition definitely gave us more confidence in our work and encouraged us to believe that everything is possible even if you come from a place where the fashion industry seems to be so far and unreachable. The award proved that if you put your heart and enthusiasm in your work, one day people will notice and appreciate you.
DD: What inspired the collection you presented there?
Mareunrol’s: The new collection tries to dissect the emotions we got while observing the Latvian environment and society. The main inspiration came from exhausted people who try to gain something in their life, but different obstacles and difficulties keep hindering them again and again until they run out of patience and strength. Imagine a Cinderella-like scenario, but without the beautiful ball dress and the prince. The main protagonist of our collection could be a sort of 21st century Cinderella living in a urbanised jungle who longs to find herself and survive by using everything possible as a source of strength. At the worst moment, when everything collapses around her, the birds come to help her by raising her dress or jacket and make everything fly - her thoughts and emotions included - and this gesture encourages her to fulfil her desires and go on in life. In this collection it was very important for us to place emphasis on the actual clothes, because for what regards our previous collections “Private Detective” and “Nightmares”, people mainly remember the constructions, accessories and the way we showed them through photos or movies, so people didn’t really focus on the details featured in those outfits.
DD: Are the birds the main surreal element of this collection?
Mareunrol’s: Surrealism is very dear to us. As we said, in this collection the birds represent raising symbols and we got the inspiration for the birds flying around the heads of the models from cartoon characters getting dizzy after bumping into a tree or after hurting themselves. Part of the inspiration for these birds also came from old wooden churches with their wooden-carved altars. The birds are indeed carved out of wood and they also remind of the little wooden sculptures that during Soviet times used to be almost in every Latvian family house. Making the birds was the most time-consuming part of this collection.
DD: Some elements in the new collection like the interwoven motifs on the trousers, jackets and dresses look almost architectural: did you take your inspirations from architecture as well?
Mareunrol’s: We have always been inspired by architecture from a point of view of construction, style and materials employed. In this collection the inspiration came from the 18th-19th century, when wooden architecture in Latvia was widespread.
DD: The new collection features quite a few menswear pieces: have you been concentrating more on men’s garments and accessories?
Mareunrol’s: This collection features an equal number of men’s and women’s outfits. We would like to concentrate more on menswear, but somehow the ideas for womenswear follow effortlessly, almost automatically. The collection also features a few accessories, such as several deconstructed scarves, bags and the bird headgear and wooden beads. There were many different accessories we wanted to make and we’ll definitely pursue further ideas regarding accessories in our future collections.
DD: Last time you presented a film to accompany your collection, did you do a film for this collection as well?
Mareunrol’s: The film was one of the main components of our previous collection based on detective noir movies. The latest collection brings other messages with it and in its concept there is no emphasis on films, even though it may somehow have a cinematic component.
DD: Among the new designers who took part in the Hyères Festival, is there one you particularly enjoyed?
Mareunrol’s: We loved the work of Alexandra Verschueren, who got the main prize. We also really enjoyed Yiqing Yin’s sensitive and beautiful collection as well as the work of Tsolmandakh Munkhuu, which was striking for the materials employed.
DD: A few days ago you did an installation for the Museum Night in Riga, what was it about?
Mareunrol’s: The installation was called “Eden” and it’s the result of a project developed together with other artists, Austrian scenographer Rūdolfs Bekičs, light artist Krišjānis Strazdītis and sound designer Kaspars Groševs. The main theme was about the road leading to the forest or garden of Eden and the installation was located in the centre of Riga in old collapsed building block which is going to be renovated in a couple of years’ time for the Latvian Museum of Contemporary Art. Throughout the years trees have grown inside the remains of the building, creating a sort of forest trapped inside a house. Our idea was to create an installation imitating man’s return to the garden of Eden. The most difficult part was building the installation in a careful way to make sure the trees weren’t touched and the visitors were protected from the collapsing building.
DD: What inspired this installation?
Mareunrol’s: The main inspiration came from uncountable low-cost hotels, their features and tasteless or tasteful room arrangements. The visitors got their room key from the hotel owner and then walked into the installation through five rooms, conceived like corridors that got smaller and smaller. Each room had its own feature with special lights and sounds installed in them. The noises, sounds and the voice of opera singers people heard were especially recorded for this project. The environment became more claustrophobic until the visitors got to the very final room, a small door blocked by multiple locks. All doors locked automatically then and, while looking for the exit – a small secret door in the wall – visitors noticed a hole in the ceiling leading to the magic forest of Eden.
DD: What projects do you have for the future?
Mareunrol’s: At the moment we’re getting ready for the “Prague Theatre and Stage Design Quadrennial 2011”. In the meantime, we’re also developing further ideas connected with the latest collection and we’re keeping on taking photos and doing work related with it.
Photographs by: Shoji Fujii (Mareunrol’s collection at the Hyères Festival), Ansis Starks (“Eden” Installation) and Nils Vilnis (photo shoot)