Basso & Brooke, in a tank
Bruno Basso and Christopher Brooke are the latest fashion designers to be honoured an exclusive space at the Design Museum to showcase their work: the tanks by the River Thames, right in front of the museum.
The pair, who dresses high rank fashion icons such as Michele Obama and Rihanna, is arguably one of the most underrated designers of the London fashion scene, even though they’ve been showing in the official schedule of London Fashion Week for almost ten years. But their highly graphic and exotic prints haven’t gone unnoticed by the folks at the museum and the British Council, who invited the pair on a ten-day trip to Uzbekistan on the first of four residency exchanges, and the result is a unique and colourful capsule collection displayed right outside the museum, accompanied by a ten-minute film.
The initiative, called New Silk Road, has been developed over the past two years and undertakes events in places such as Kazakhstan, Iran, Pakistan, Bangladesh and now, Uzbekistan. The purpose is to bring attention to unique local crafts and shed light on their culture, addressing negative stereotypes in a creative, non-political way. “We were looking for designers whose aesthetics reflect what we can find in these countries and that could be a point of connection between them and the local people”, says British Council’s Carla Sorrell, who curated Basso & Brooke’s exhibition. And the pair fit right in with the natives, giving talks at Uzbeq Fashion Week, visiting local artisans and absorbing the culture in any way they could.
As a result of the trip, the designers have created a small collection of six printed fabrics inspired by the textiles and landscapes of the country, incorporating their signature style into it. The new prints were then digitally inserted into a simple dress from their Autumn/Winter 2010 collection, shown at London Fashion Week in February. The duo is no stranger to cultural exchanges and influences, since their aesthetic has always been an unusual mix of colourful Brazilian with English cool.
As part of the exchange, in Spring 2010, three Uzbek weavers came to England to visit the designers’ atelier and work with Woven Studio. They also visited exhibitions and taught textile classes to universities such as Chelsea School of Art, where some graduates eventually put their new crafts to work in their final exhibitions.
The 10-minute film, which can be watched in the museum’s foyer, gives a perfect reflection of the country’s culture and vibrancy, showing scenes from markets, landscapes, the local architecture and, of course, craftsmen at work.”We hope that it’s a story that inspires people to have a more contemporary understanding of the level of creativity and craft in these regions [such as Uzbekistan], and come out with a feeling that the culture is really inspiring”, says Carla.
Along with the first days of the Design Museum Tank installation, it was announced that they’re now venturing into interior design, lending their exciting digital prints to furniture and other homeware products. “We’ve always thought of our label as a lifestyle brand. As a print label, it’s a natural extension – any surface can be printed”, the pair told Vogue.com. The line was unveiled in June at the Shop at Blue Bird and will be on sale during the summer.
Showcased from June 16th until August 24th, the installation, right by the River Thames, couldn’t have come in a better time, as London celebrates Bruno Basso’s home country with Festival Brazil at the Southbank Centre, which will show visual arts, dance, music and a lot more of what Brazil has to offer.
By Bia Bezamat
June 16th – August 24th