Religious conservatives and teenage pranksters have been wanting to do this for centuries — put some clothing on all those languid naked beauties painted by the Renaissance masters. Now someone has done it, but not for the reasons you might think.
The image above, showing Cranach’s Lucretia in a sleek space-age bodysuit, comes from the inspiration boards for an exceptional couture lingerie collection created by Belgian designer Veronique Branquinho for Marie Jo L’Aventure.
The collection, unveiled yesterday in Antwerp, marks the second year in a row that Marie Jo has partnered with an outside designer in an attempt to push the boundaries of fashion undergarments. Last year, the Belgian brand commissioned design duo A.F. Vandevorst to create a visionary one-of-a-kind set; it was not only one of the year’s most compelling lingerie collections, it also became a museum exhibit later in the year before the prototypes were auctioned off.
Veronique Branquinho for Marie Jo L’Aventure is likely to create just as much buzz.
It’s a small capsule collection in monochrome onyx and emerald and consists of a body, a waist cincher, three bras and three brief styles. Although it exudes a 1950s air, the feel is pure 21st Century, as Branquinho and MJ have used the collaboration to explore new fabrics and materials that combine luxury and comfort.
Branquinho, who is now the artistic director for handbag giant Delvaux, has a reputation for creating apparel collections that feature crisp tailoring and classic lines, and that aesthetic is evident in her contribution for Marie Jo.
“We selected Veronique Branquinho because her style matches with Marie Jo L’Aventure’s,” said Lien Van de Velde, the brand’s design manager. “It was especially the perfect balance between pure, taut llines and feminine elegance without frippery that appealed to us. … Her perfectionism, sense of detail and lucid sense of couture have become even clearer during our partnership.”
What many people will find most interesting about the collection, though, is the inspiration behind it. Given a blank slate to begin designing her dream collection, Branquinho revisited the many nudes painted by Italian Renaissance masters like Titian, Cranach, Raphael and others. Contemplating those classic images, she saw a vision of femininity “that often runs counter to the contemporary slim beauty ideal yet nevertheless radiates pure sensuality.”
Branquinho selected her favorite Renaissance images, had them reproduced, and then began painting lingerie on the naked bodies in onyx and emerald tones borrowed from the palette of the masters.
“Femininity is universal and timeless and has always inspired me. It is a recurring theme in my work,” she said. “When I see the naked figures of the old masters, I don’t feel they differ much from the women of today and I wonder how they would look nowadays in lingerie. That’s why I dressed them. I haven’t worked with oil colours since I was at art school; it was a rediscovery. While I was painting I came to the conclusion that the ambience of the collection and the ambience of the paintings fit together wonderfully.”
Those images — easily the year’s most interesting moodboards! — will be displayed at the Antwerp Fashion Museum in October, then auctioned off for charity.
In the meantime, watch for this extremely rare and inspired collection to appear in shops that stock Marie Jo products in September.