For spring/summer 2016, Holly Fulton celebrates the eccentric splendour of the late British surrealist artist Eileen Agar. For Agar, surrealism began early. Born in 1899 in Buenos Aires to a Scottish father and American mother, she travelled to England as a child accompanied by a cow and an orchestra (her mother had advised that both fresh milk and good music were essential to her wellbeing).
She went on to become one of Britain’s most ebullient female artists working in the thirties. Agar’s art focuses on the collision of natural objects in new formations. Fulton has looked in particular at Fish Circus (1949) – a collage made up of a starfish pinned with a thumbtack on top of geometric and organic elements – and photographs of the summer Agar spent at Picasso’s home in Mougins, Alpes-Maritimes in 1937. A picture of Agar swaying, freely dressed in a fully transparent skirt, has been pinned to the wall of Fulton’s studio for months now, sat beside a medley of rubber stars and gauzy paillettes, which manifest as the label’s signature embellishments. This collection imagines the vitality of Agar’s studio that the artist described as “an immense collage of all sorts of things.” Her esoteric survey of two and three-dimensional forms are here suggested in the matte silicone moulded components, developd with Avery Denison, bonded onto indigo denim. Embroidered silk patterns are set against oversized transparent sequins and Swarovski crystals. Both Agar’s colour palette and her clash of the surreal with the natural have influenced a tight collection that comes with a flourish of fluoro. Fine Scabal wools are in dirty lime, dusky blue and shadowy pink; checkerboard offsets rolling tendrils and waves. Ruffles swoop across the front of neat skirts and jut at the elbow from three quarter length sleeves. Acid lime flares against sulphur spring; shades of blue go from indigo through to midnight and near black. Print motifs are rhythmic and taken directly from Agar’s assemblages. Interlocking pinwheels, floral and starfish shapes all have a kinetic energy that play out across printed Crêpe De Chine and silk organza. A tidal wave print connects the poetic crests of op-artist Bridget Riley with Agar’s hobby of beachcombing both in France and England. This season’s accessories are stripped back. Box bags, in appliquéd plonge leather go from macro to micro; curved triangular framed sunglasses are handmade in England. Modish jewellery in sterling silver, onyx and malachite is produced with Eiger Gallery – a hub of inter-disciplinary innovation and design. Spring/summer 2016 also marks Fulton’s 2nd collaboration with Christian Louboutin: this season her repeat prints are applied onto Bella Tige wedged sandals. “I’ve enjoyed life, and it shows through like a transparent skirt,” Agar said in an interview she gave to Channel Four two years before her death in 1989. Her playfulness was braced by a strong will that is suggested not only in the spirited frolic of Fulton’s crystal shifts, but also in the label’s enduring M.O.