Teo Griscom is one of those rare lingerie designers who truly express themselves through their work, the way painters pour their feelings onto a canvas.
She weaves together inspirations from her travels, her studies and her interactions with the art and fashion worlds, resulting in brainy collisions of color and form that are impossible to replicate and miles removed from any current trends.
Teo’s small New York label, Unforeseen Circumstances, creates the kind of avant-garde looks that everyone in fashion school wishes they’d thought of first, and everyone in art school wishes they owned. (Teo famously created a line of rough linen undies in 2011 and, last year, built a lingerie collection around the primitive color blotches of abstract painter Cy Twombly.)
But there is also a personal subtext throughout Teo’s work, and the new spring collection from UC hints at — pardon the pun — changing circumstances in the life of the label and its founder.
The bold, expressionistic new range is all about “courage and surrendering,” Teo told Lingerie Talk. And it’s not just theoretical posturing: Teo, a longtime New Yorker, recently packed up and relocated to Zurich, Switzerland, to be with her new partner.
Given that monumental change, the latest offering from Unforeseen Circumstances is more personal and emotionally resonant than anything Teo has done with her label to date.
“It’s about taking risk, standing out or standing up. And the sort of symmetry that comes with that,” she said. “But in order to find that symmetry you have to fall apart.
“It’s about moving, traveling and letting go. Falling off the edge into the pool, so to speak.”
The photoshoot that accompanies the new collection — shot by Eric Kvatek in a pool in Oahu — dramatizes the themes of risk and surrender and is also, Teo said, “a play on being ready for ‘unforeseen circumstances’ [like] an unplanned swim.”
There are eight new pieces in the collection as well as four bodysuits from earlier UC collections, most of it fabricated from a silk noil that gives the pieces a warm texture.
Design-wise, there’s a lot going on here too. Teo worked with NYC artist Reed Anderson — known for his intricate abstractions made from overlapping paper cuts — to create the dramatic prints seen here.
“I’ve aways wanted to work with Reed,” said Teo. “And because of my art background, I enjoy working with others, I think there is a lot to be gained in collaboration.
“He created the fabric, but had no idea what I would then transform it into,” she said. “[It] was a fun experiment for both of us.”
Reed is responsible for the graphic slashes of color in this collection, which contrast with Teo’s soothing palette of washed-out neutrals and pastels that were inspired by trips to Paris and Malta. You can trace the evolution of her palette on UC’s website, which always presents one of the most interesting and revealing moodboards in the industry.
“Both of our work reflects having a hand clearly visible in what we create,” Teo says of her collaboration with Reed, a longtime friend. “Our combined interest [is] in craftspeople and artists who are less associated with the digital age.”
Despite Teo’s recent move to Europe, Unforeseen Circumstances remains in business and a fall collection is promised that will offer “an answer or resolution” to the themes depicted in the spring collection.
The new range will arrive in May and is distributed through Lille Boutique and Kapital Japan.
Here are more images from UC’s very effective, and evocative, photoshoot.