Jean-Pierre Braganza's visual starting point this season was chiaroscuro, the Italian term for the realist ‘light-dark’ technique painters used to bring three-dimensional objects to life and create a vivid sense of drama. It made sense, considering that the emotional impact of contrast has always been at the heart of Braganza’s aesthetic, and he gestured toward the reference with sharp-cut figures and trompe l'oeil monochromes, offset by bustling silks and skirts trailing along the floor.
This season, however, the designer looked even deeper into contrast, thematically as well as visually, revealing a dimension of suffering underneath the confident insularity of his point of view. Moved by the plight of baroque prodigy of painting Artemisia Gentileschi – a contemporary of Caravaggio who endured severe physical and psychic pain as a female artist in a men’s world - Braganza took her radically original treatments of mythic heroines as starting point for his own recipe for sublimated subversion.
In his language, that translated as deconstructed tailored separates: leather-trimmed coats, cocooned quilted tops and voluminous trousers that cut an austere figure, only to be interrupted by a sweeping print or a sumptuously cinched waist. The looks were elegant but in the fantasy-novel way of Braganza's aesthetic - more Pan’s Labyrinth than, say, Swan Lake. The strongest points were focused precisely in the ways the trousers folded at the waist and sleeves enveloped the body to emphasize the twin currents of fragility and toughness that define the Braganza girl.
The collection stumbled when Artemisia’s prints were thrown in amid architectural paneling, coming off as a facile after-thought in Braganza’s otherwise modern mien. A more considered touch and stricter eye for editing also would have benefited looks too detailed for their own good – conflicting colour-blocking here, a graphic skirt hem there - and would have unlocked the sophistication of their prototypes. Still, even if it didn’t mark an absolute triumph, the collection on the whole was a moving tribute to a femininity that unrepentantly and unapologetically moves against the grain.
Jean-Pierre Braganza Fashion Show Ready To Wear Collection Spring Summer 2014
Jean-Pierre Braganza Fashion Show Ready To Wear Collection Fall Winter 2013
Jean-Pierre Braganza Fashion Show Ready To Wear Collection Spring Summer 2013