Zuhair Murad went for the obscure with his inspiration for the Resort 2017 collection: an imaginary conversation between French Post-Impressionist painter Henri Rousseau and British photographer David Hamilton.
Rousseau painted in the naive or primitive style during the late 19th/early 20th century, and his works for the most part were ridiculed by his contemporary audience. That is until he began to gain the attention and respect of top artists like Pablo Picasso, when slowly his works became widely admired.
I can see why Rousseau, a self-taught hobbyist painter, was placed firmly in the primitive and naive camp. His paintings come from a perspective of innocence, even in the jungle scene with a fully nude woman lounging. There is a lack of sensuality that you would expect to see with nudity -the woman is posed almost uncomfortably and stoically. Also, the figures of both woman and child are disproportionate, adding to this sense of either naivety or elementary technique.
The controversial British photographer David Hamilton took a vastly different perspective with his scenes and figures. His works became well known in the 1960’s and he’s been working and publishing mostly portrait photography ever since. Hamilton has been the source of many attempted book bans, installation removals, child pornography investigations, and surely a litany of hate mail.
His photography has for decades been the source of debate on “is it art or pornography?” Even more polarizing is his choice to use models that are obviously young girls – far younger than 18, although one could make the argument that even at 18, most girls would come to regret posing for something like this. It almost equates to that creep that lures a pretty girl into a “modeling gig” that turns out to be nude photos in his garage…regardless of how beautiful or evocative the end result turns out to be.
So this imaginary conversation between naive artist and predatory painter? Had to be riveting, I’m sure. I can almost see the tension between the two viewpoints, but it lends itself to pretty gorgeous boho clothes with plenty of to die for maxis, rompers, and jumpsuits…and of course a few of his staple red carpet ready gowns.
Murad‘s visuals of this discussion were realized in a play on innocence with Chantilly lace, macrame, and tulle. The contrast came in with plunging necklines, strategically placed sheer fabric, as well as high hemlines and slits. Rousseau’s famous jungle scenes could easily be found in the exotic floral prints while Hamilton’s styling and tone were emulated closely by the models.