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Porcelain-Inspired Fashion Is Having a Moment

pA Paco Rabanne bag.p

A Paco Rabanne bag.

Photo: Jonathan Embriaco

Paco Rabanne’s fall 2020 ready-to-wear collection also featured porcelain, as well as a slew of historical gender-bending references. Joan of Arc chain-mail garments met fanciful floral frocks, some of which were paired with the fashion house’s Iconic 1969 bag in a floral porcelain variety. In the loungewear realm, Karen Mabon’s recently launched ceramics collection is a love letter to the category’s diversity. Josiah Wedgwood, Pablo Picasso, Mary Fedden, and Grayson Perry are among the artists who inspired the whimsically illustrated robes, scarves, and pajamas. “I wanted to capture the feeling of staring into the V&A’s glass cabinets—all the different styles nestled together, bursting with color,” Mabon, who began collecting ceramics after visiting Leach Pottery in St. Ives, tells AD. “In lockdown, serving meals on colorful, decorative plates has brought me so much joy, and I have appreciated my collection on a new level.”

pA scarf by Karen Mabon.p

A scarf by Karen Mabon.

Photo: Courtesy of Karen Mabon

During lockdown, British designers Thea Bregazzi and Justin Thornton have also found renewed inspiration in their mismatched vintage china collection, assembled over years working near Portobello Road’s markets—as have their daughters. For a homeschooling project about making art from found objects, they transformed a broken plate into jewelry. Their creations reminded the designers of kintsugi, the Japanese practice of mending broken pottery with a golden lacquer to honor its unique history. During this time, Thornton also discovered Dutch artist Bouke de Vries’ powerful work In Pieces but Holding It Together, in which a glass jar contains broken pieces of blue and white china.

pJewelry by Vicki Sarge.p

Jewelry by Vicki Sarge.

Photo: Courtesy of Vicki Sarge

Apt metaphors for navigating the pandemic’s myriad challenges with resilience, kintsugi and De Vries’s sculpture formed the basis of Preen by Thornton Bregazzi’s spring 2021 ready-to-wear collection, whose patchwork garments were comprised exclusively of leftover fabrics. The designers also tapped luxury costume jeweler Vicki Sarge, who was coincidentally also a kintsugi admirer and friend of de Vries. Combining Bregazzi’s broken china with gold enamel paint, Sarge refined the children’s samples into one-of-a-kind wearable brooches, necklaces, earrings, and more.

Sarge believes that handcraft, personalization, and sustainability are vital for the collective future of fashion and jewelry. The same can be said for cleverly integrating historical art forms into the contemporary wardrobe, as Preen by Thornton Bregazzi has done masterfully. “We love the idea of reinventing something that has lived another life and been loved,” Thornton tells AD. “If something is already incredibly beautiful, it’s just about putting it into the modern world.”

pA dress from Preen by Thornton Bregazzi.p

A dress from Preen by Thornton Bregazzi.

Photo: Courtesy of Preen by Thornton Bregazzi

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