I suppose sooner or later it had to happen. After all, fashion does tend to like tragic stories. So, is it any wonder, really, that Jean-Pierre Braganza, who was raised in Canada, would choose a decaying Detroit as the inspiration for his spring/summer 2015 collection? No, not really. No surprise at all.
Braganza says the collection explores, “the accidental elegance of industrial design and abstract expressionism, the point where randomness and consideration intersect.”
As a result, what we get are a group of silhouettes that are highly structured, very architectural in their form, relying heavily on careful folds, precise cut outs, and frequent use of geometric patterns. This is not a brightly colored collection, but it is a well-styled one. Colors stay on the dark side, a taupe that is more the shade of cement, a black that is more the shade of burnt motor oil, and an occasional brush of orange from a setting sun. There are occasional touches of jewels, bead work, and fringe that hint at a former glory, but the greatness the city once knew is now quiet and understated.
Little things mean a lot. Where there are sleeves, shoulders tend to be padded and rounded. Asymmetry reigns along hems and cuts and shapes just about everywhere one looks, like slabs of concrete and steel crumbling, sliding together. Braganza plays most with the shapes of tops and blouses, no two of which are hardly similar, much less alike. Panels lift and fold in rather unexpected directions, giving some pieces very non-traditional shapes. This is a good thing, though, as it prevents the collection from assuming the state of depression that comes with viewing the ruins of Detroit.
Two different styles of prints come into play. One is apocalyptic Durer wood carvings, which take on a sense of modernity with the way they are folded rather than stitched to create their unique and modern shapes. The other is motorcycle engines printed on silk with satin finishes, playing well into the motor city theme with embellishments in gunmetal gray.
Along the way, there are a few surprises that are fun. One is what appears to be a priest’s vestment collar atop a printed blouse. Another is an off-white moto jacket, impeccably styled and well suited to the collection. Sheer panels and an especially architectural cut to a pair of shorts are other gems likely to create no small amount of excitement.
As the city of Detroit attempts to rebuild itself, this Jean-Pierre Braganza collection represents the type of strong architecture and determined resolve it will take to bring the city back from the brink of devastation. Braganza’s strong sense of form and structure is a good example to follow.
Photo credit: Regis Colin Berthelier