Nothing is real. Nothing is permanent.
Through a kaleidoscopic paisley-printed haze, the seeds of perception form. Etro’s Spring Summer 2018 collection is an homage to the spiritual wanderers of the psychedelic generation who made their pilgrimages in the ‘60s from the shores of Goa to the Himalayan foothills. Kean Etro takes us on a vividly colourful journey to this moment of collective awakening. Pulling from the classic imagery of Indian mysticism and the esoteric imagination, talismans and deities make their presence known. Sacred cows, elephants stretching their trunks to the heavens, hallucinogenic frogs, tantric couples and figures from the Tarot mingle together in an allegorical dreamscape passionately animated by Etro’s iconic paisley pattern.
Fabrics were inspired by Kean Etro’s grandfather, a textile dealer, who would spend the dry season in Madras alongside local weavers that would assemble their looms outside to work freely in the fresh air. The impurities woven into the fabric in these impromptu workshops would give each yard of fabric its own unique fingerprint – a DNA specific to Madras that Etro has arduously recreated inch by inch in his own Italian atelier. Colours have been exactingly studied to create dyes that preserve the essence of the collection’s spiritual home: coral, tangerine, turquoise and fuchsia work in contrast with earthier shades of brown, military green and bronze. Materials are intentionally informal but meticulously wrought. Linen features heavily: lightweight blazers, screen printed with a sonorous, multi-coloured paisley pattern or richly coloured Madras checks benefit from a flexible linen-viscose composition. Combined with raw wool, plaid suiting retains the structure of a heavier blend but remains light enough for warmer months. Rumpled light brown trousers composed of a cotton-linen mix keep their leisurely tousled texture. Linen and rayon shirting maintains a handwoven aesthetic, woven with contrasting colours to produce a three-dimensional tone. A simple blazer in lush cotton is radiant in all over paisley print, featuring archive patterns from Etro’s ‘60s-era inception.
Painstakingly realised ornamentation shines in this collection. Cargo jackets have been painted by hand in swirling turquoise, green, fuchsia and eggplant macro-paisley. Embroidery is expressed in the form of sacred mandalas, floral motifs and banding, using colourful beads and lightweight iron pendants. Collage practices are used as embellishment on jackets – faltered, broken stitching in colourful threads is used to apply patterned panels to otherwise stoic blazers in brown and grey plaid. Metal stud details, like pointillist paintings, take the shape of the collection’s animal protagonists: a military green cargo coat finds a regal elephant reaching skyward on its back panel. Dégradé dyed Madras suiting stuns with a symphonic layering of pattern that shifts and darkens along the entirety of a suit, and is completed by hand-dipping the finished pieces in a proprietary coffee-based dye. The craftwork reaches its zenith on an all over hand-beaded tuxedo jacket in a sumptuous silver paisley pattern. Trousers come in a wide spectrum of volumes, including slim cut tuxedo-style evening-wear versions roughly inspired by Victorian-era suiting. Linen Madras slacks are cut slightly looser, with elastic banded ankles for a casual mood and roomy Goa pants are fabricated in crêpe linen and decadent towel-like cotton boucle. Denim is generously decorated: pieces are ornately embroidered, printed with bleach or woven in paisley-printed jacquard. Relaxed kaftan-style shirting is kept long, loose and intentionally wrinkled, with military style pocket details and band collars that retain a sense of structure in the garment.
Accessories are similarly vibrant – gorgeously woven scarfs are imbued with an iridescent sheen by contrasting warp and weft colours. Hand printed leather espadrilles and sporty, paisley-patterned trainers are detailed with suede, moccasin-like trim. Slouchy leather shoulder bags are lined with a similar fringe and hand stamped in a bandana pattern. A host of playful t-shirts and polos benefit from riotous colour and pattern and feature the collection’s cast of mystic characters. Finally, in a nod to the collection’s irresistibly ‘60s vibe, Etro’s founder Gimmo is immortalised in the style of the generation’s avatar, “Gimmo Hendrix”. A psychedelic pop-art portrait fit for the most adventurous of spiritual wanderers.