Autumn Winter 2015
l'esprit du lieu

The genius loci was considered by the Latin people as the guardian and protective spirit of a place. In her Autumn/Winter 2015-16 collection, knitwear designer and crochet artist Laura Theiss imagined to follow the ethereal spirits protecting and haunting Paris, through different times.

Entitled "l'esprit du lieu" (Spirit of the Place), Theiss' collectionstarts in the late 1800s with Art Nouveau. Posters of the green fairy advertising absinthe - the favourite drink of many avant-garde and bohemian artists and writers living in Paris in those times - and Lalique's jewellery designs based on the natural world inspired crocheted fan, plumage, wing and tendril patterns and kaleidoscopic light and lacy motifs referencing foliage, vines and flowers in a palette of rich browns and musky greens.

Decorative patterns and perforated designs playing around the seen/unseen, revealed/concealed dichotomies, prompted Theiss to explore another theme, a tale of cross-cultural architectural elements inspired by the principles of Moorish designs and Arabic tiles, preserved at the Louvre Museum.

As the collection progressed, symmetrical floral patterns framing the body led to a stronger architectural derivation from our modern times. Foliage turned into urban vertical gardens as designed by French architect Jean Nouvel, while the interplay between light and shadow in her tops with crocheted patchwork squares points instead towards transformative architectures like Nouvel'sInstitut du Monde Arabe in Paris, characterised by a façade that can transform itself when hit by a different setting of lights.

The subtle metallic elements included in the collection hint at strong construction materials such as steel, while the bright electric blues evoke the colour of blueprints and technical drawings.

In the last two years Theiss has also worked as costume designer for performances by renowned choreographer Marguerite Donlon. This experience led her to experiment with dynamically body-con shapes as seen in her impalpable mohair and silk hand-knitted dresses and skirts that allow maximum of movement, while guaranteeing to the wearer a modern and sensual style.

Theiss' "l'esprit du lieu" collection is a celebration of the enduring spirit of Paris: the designer hopes that the spirits of the place that inspired her will restore a balance between natural and urban elements and unite people in a symbolic embrace as strong as a crisp crochet stitch.

written by Anna Battista

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