Design 1044 (Metz & Co.); Design 501 (Private collection) & Variation on Design 1355 (Private collection)
Color Moves: Art & Fashion by Sonia Delaunay recently opened at the Cooper-Hewitt National Design Museum New York and features over 300 garments, textiles, designs, fashion illustrations and photographs from the two major milestones in Delaunay’s career – her own Atelier Simultané in Paris from the 1920s, as well as textiles that were designed for the Metz & Co. department store (in Amsterdam) from the 1930s – which all prove Delaunay’s theory that colour was “the skin of the world”
Bathing suit (tunic); Dress & Bathing suit, Designed by Sonia Delaunay
Born in Ukraine, Sonia Delaunay was originally an abstract painter as well as experimenting with interiors, graphics, textiles,fashion and costumes for theatre, film and dance; she went to Paris to study after realising her artistic potential and though discovering her talent, she was able to create her trademark of showing a “sense of movement and rhythm created by the simultaneous contrasts of certain colours.” Her big break came in 1925 where her designs were shown at the Exhibition of Modern Decorative and Industrial Arts in Paris; it was following this she worked with Metz & Co. in producing textiles incorporating strong colours and abstract floral prints.
Design 1293 (Metz & Co.); Design 253 (Private collection) & Design 253 (Metz & Co.) by Sonia Delaunay
The exhibit begins with the ‘Poem Dresses’ formed in the 1910s; they “represent a synthesis or word, body and movement.” The dressed are inspired by her work with poet Blaise Cendrars, whose poems “she illuminated with abstract colour forms.” The homage also includes pieces from her Atelier Simultané (Simultaneous Boutique) from the 1920s, which consist of driving caps, bathing suits and coats, as well as black-and-white photographs of famous actresses wearing her designs. “The fashions are pure geometric forms in rhythmic patterns and brilliant colours that exactly suited the modern spirit.”
Model wearing swimsuit designed by Sonia Delaunay, 1929; Still photo from the film Le P’tit Parigot & Model wearing swimsuit designed by Sonia Delaunay, 1928
The audience is then taken through the stages of the creations for the Metz & Co. department store; the process includes the very first sketched Delaunay created, moving onto the finished article, all of which show her technical skills as a designer.
The exhibition on unti June 05 at the Cooper-Hewitt National Design Museum combines her work from various other sources including the Musée des Arts Decoratifs, Musée de la Mode de la Ville de Paris, the Musée de l’Impression sur Etoffes in Mulhouse, the Bibliotheque Nationale de France and private collections around Europe and the United States – all of which have maintained the pieces so you can see them at their very best.
Color Moves: Art & Fashion by Sonia Delaunay
Image credits left to right, top to bottom: Design 1044, Designed by Sonia Delaunay, France, 1930–31, Produced by Metz & Co, Printed cotton georgette, Private collection; Design 501, Designed by Sonia Delaunay, France, 1948, Gouache and pencil on paper, Private collection; Variation on Design 1355, Designed by Sonia Delaunay, France, 1934, Gouache on paper, Private collection; Bathing suit (tunic), Designed by Sonia Delaunay, France, 1924–25, Silk embroidery on wool jersey, Musée de l’Impression sur Étoffes, Mulhouse, 980.629.1; Dress Designed by Sonia Delaunay, France, 1925-28, Printed silk satin with metallic embroidery, Musée de la Mode de la Ville de Paris, Musée Galliera, GAL 1970.58.31; Bathing suit, Designed by Sonia Delaunay, France, ca. 1928, Knitted wool, Musée de la Mode de la Ville de Paris, Musée Galliera, GAL 1971.24.7; Design 1293, Designed by Sonia Delaunay, Produced by Metz & Co, France, 1934, Printed cotton georgette, Private collection; Design 253, Designed by Sonia Delaunay, France, 1928–30, Gouache, ink, and pencil on paper, Private collection; Model wearing swimsuit designed by Sonia Delaunay, 1929, Photographed by Luigi Diaz for Presse Paris, Bibliothèque Nationale de France; Still photo from the film Le P’tit Parigot, Written by Paul Cartoux, Directed by René Le Somptier, France, 1926, Collection of Antoine Blanchette; Models wearing beachwear designed by Sonia Delaunay, 1928, Private collection. All: © L & M SERVICES B.V. The Hague 20100623
Color Moves: Art & Fashion by Sonia Delaunay