Le Petit Echo de la Mode by Hormazd Narielwalla

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Hormazd Narielwalla’s latest work mines a seam of precious material hidden between the pages of Le Petit Echo de la Mode. Published in Paris between 1897 and 1983 Le Petit Echo de la Mode was a popular domestic fashion and lifestyle magazine. Within it, loose and often discarded, Narielwalla plucks a streak of radical abstraction.

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The magazine contains tailoring patterns that, for efficiency’s sake, layer the life-sized templates of entire garments onto a single sheet of paper. Each facet of the garment is encoded in an intricate web of lines, dots and numbers, and challenges us to view this sheet not as a means to an end but as an end in itself. Shattering the female form into precise overlapping facets flattened not as views of a subject but as the object itself. Narielwalla makes the radical potential loose in Le Petit Echo de la Mode real.

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He cuts delicate sheets of coloured paper with the pride of a mother. The sheet of paper instructs the housewife, and the artist, to make itself. Predating Futurism and prefiguring Cubism these Le Petit Echo de la Mode abstracted the female subject to a degree more radical and precise than the highest aspirations of the 1912 manifetso Du “Cubisme”. Narielwalla discovers once discarded but now groundbreaking artworks that were begging to become real and loved.

Narielwalla is a collage maker working with tailoring patterns as raw source materials. His practice began in the workrooms of Savile Row tailors Dege & Skinner when he discovered they would discard sets of bespoke suit patterns upon death of their customers. They had no use without the individual body. This prompted him to produce an artist book Dead Man’s Patterns (2008) which, was acquired by 25 institutions around UK and America including the Rare British Modern Collection at the British Library, National Art Library and the Fashion Institute of Technology, New York. The book got the attention of Sir Paul Smith who sponsored Narielwalla’s first solo show Study on Anansi (2009) where he combined the patterns with western Africa folklore tales.

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In 2011 Benefactum Publishers,  published his second book The Savile Row Cutter – the tailoring biography of master tailor Michael Skinner. Since then he has exhibited in other galleries-stores in London, Melbourne, Stockholm, Athens and the eminent Scope Art Fair in New York. Narielwalla was also commissioned by the Crafts Council, England to exhibit in their national touring exhibition Block Party (2011) and participate in the Project Space at Collect 2013, the international art fair for the contemporary object hosted at the Saatchi Gallery. Saatchi online magazine announced him as One-to-Watch.

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