Tuesday, March 3, 2009

Metal Couture

Metal Couture....the term lately has been appropriated nicked by people selling heavy metal band T shirts, however it of course properly refers to high end, metal jewellery for the catwalk. A lot of metal couture stretches the concept to the point that the metal becomes clothing. Considering how uncomfortable metal normally is when worn, this is no mean feat!

I do Metal Couture with Assassinus, however there are some big names out there that do some amazing stuff. Though, generally, despite the fact that jewellers are everywhere, people who do metal couture for the catwalk are rare. The catwalk doesn't really cater for jewellery, its too small and hard to see, and can be lost in amongst the clothes. It disapears in photography as it is not obvious in full body shots. The skills it takes to make metal couture are not necessarily the sort of skills you will pick up in a normal design course, or a normal jewellery apprenticeship or art degree.

Shaping a metal mask to fit an individuals facial features is not a simple (or common) task. The trick with metal couture is getting it to curve and fit the body. Good metal couture, in my opinion, follows the outline of the body and flows with it. Of course some artists can use flat sheet in metal couture.

When jewellers put their work on the catwalk, they have to either use really minimalist clothes (like catsuits), plain clothes, or have the models not wearing many clothes at all, so the jewellery stands out.
Metal couture is generally more obvious than traditional types of jewellery, like rings and necklaces. Metal Couture tends to be big!!!

Here are a few Metal Couture artists currently active.

Firstly William Griffiths. He does some very pretty stuff, and a lot of influence from tatoo designs, cyber esque stuff (with some Gieger influences), and interestingly, gothic and gothic architecture (he does some lovely rings based on gothic cathedrals). He is often referred to as a "Gothic" jewellery, which is patenty untrue, gothic influence is only evident in part of his collection.
He does do Metal corsets and headpeices.
He is Australian, was based in London, but back now in Melbourne where he has his shop on Gertrude st, Fitzroy and is stocked all about the place.


Manuel Albarran is from Barcelona (you have to pronounce it properly dahrleenk, the c is a lispy sound). He does lots of pretty work with masks and formfitting corsets. He studied in fashion and interestingly makes normal (textile) corsets, as well as metal couture. This is rather an unusual combination as metal couture people normally start as jewellers.


Frank Strunk III seems to do mainly art work involving rusty bits, though he has done some Metal Couture. They are mainly simply cones and some worked sheetmetal.
Personally, I prefer his metal purses.


Assassinus I've been working making armour for 16 years now, so developed an understanding for how metal fits on to the body, and how you accommodate for movement.Armoured fighters have to be able to move very fast.
Anyway, this gives me an appreciation for how metal can both look, and work with the body. Historically authentic armour production is not very creative in some ways, as you have to stick to historical precedent, so I eventually stopped doing it and started doing Jewellery within subcultures.
Assassinus at the moment works in copper, Brass, stainless and mild stell, and has recently started producing corsets in Perspex. Corsets, bracelets, vambraces, necklaces and strange collar things.


Thierry Mugler. While originally a fashion designer first active in Paris in the early 1970's, Muegler has dabbled in many varied activities including writing, perfumes, directing and metal couture.


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Learning by Doing

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“Simplicity is the keynote of all true elegance.”

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