Arthur Arbesser: The Power of Prints and Patterns
TLmag spoke with Milan-based fashion designer and artist, Arthur Arbesser, about his upcoming FW2023 collection, the value of working on a smaller scale, and how Vienna, the city where he was born, continues to inspire him.
“There is always an immense satisfaction in doing things by hand,” says Viennese born-Milan based fashion designer and artist, Arthur Arbesser. At the start of every project, be it fashion, costumes or homewares, Arbesser starts sketching ideas on a long roll of paper, often late at night, letting the colour and pattern start to flow, as the ideas slowly come together. Arbesser launched his eponymous line in 2013, and has since become known for his distinctive graphic prints and knits that often blend unexpected contrasts such as floral prints, stripes or dots, swirls, pixels, harlequins, bold colours and romantic shapes.
From a young age, Arbesser was drawn to everything Mediterranean and Italian and after four creative years studying at Central Saint Martins, Milan was an obvious next step. “Milan represented for me this idea of elegance and a type of quality that I was looking for after the intense energy of London”, he says. He received a call from Armani after leaving his portfolio with the doorman and ended up working there for seven years. “It was an incredible training, especially with the fabrics, which I quickly understood was something I wanted to do more with.”
Arbesser connects his attraction to colourful shapes and geometric patterns partly to the influence of growing up in Vienna, “where things like checkerboard prints and graphic patterns are subtly woven into the fabric of the city,” he notes, and “after seven years at Armani, I think the colours and patterns were bubbling up inside of me and I was happy to go down this route and continue with it.”
Arbesser produces two collections a year for his line, in what he finds to be a “human pace in which you can express something of value.” He sees it in a way as if each collection adds something to his creative portfolio which opens up other collaborations, an essential part of the artist’s practice. He has worked regularly on costumes for opera and ballet companies in Italy, Germany and Austria, and has collaborated with other fashion houses such as Fay, designed fabrics for Rubelli, and done projects with the Viennese furniture company Wittmann. He has worked with Danish brand Hem designing rugs and blankets as well and he recently did a collaboration with the Austrian laminate company, Abet Laminati, which was exhibited at the Triennle de Milano during Salone del Mobile in June 2022.
The F/W 2023 collection, which will be presented in Milan at the end of February, was partly inspired by his great-grandfather who was an amateur artist and travelled the world in the 1890s sketching and painting romantic landscapes around the Mediterranean and as far away as Sri Lanka and India. Arbesser transformed some of his charcoal sketches of palm trees and combined them with something completely modern, such as “strange papery collages in different colours, creating something very artsy and organic, and almost handmade like a child next to something very elaborate”, he explains.
Everything from Arbesser’s collections is produced in Italy, with the knitted wear produced in Veneto with a long-established manufacturer. Past collections have taken inspiration from such diverse sources as Wiener Werkstätte, Josef Hoffmann, computerized pixels and the Wim Wenders film, Wings of Desire.
“There is a such a value in being your own boss and being able to make a decision on your terms,” says Arbesser about his small and collaborative team, most of whom have been working with him since the beginning.
In addition to the upcoming F/W 2023 show, Arbesser is preparing for a presentation at the Salone di Mobile in Milan this June. Details to follow.
Cover photo by Arthur Arbesser is by Giorgio Veronesi