Art in Fashion: MASP's Rhodia Collection
For the first time, MASP showed, from 23.10.2015 to 14.2.2016, its complete Rhodia fashion collection, featuring clothes created through a collaboration between artists and designers in the 1960s. The collection of 79 pieces, selected by Pietro Maria Bardi (1900–1999), the museum’s founding director, was donated in 1972 by Rhodia. The French chemical manufacturer promoted its synthetic fabrics in Brazil through fashion spectacles, collections and press articles, according to a strategy devised by Lívio Rangan (1933–1984), the company’s visionary publicity manager. The fashion shows presented between 1960 and 1970 were true spectacles that brought together professionals from the fields of theater, dance, music and the arts. Held at the Feira Nacional da Indústria Têxtil [National Textile Industry Fair] (Fenit), Brazil’s largest fashion event at the time, each show featured up to 150 designs, with two collections per year traveling throughout Brazil and internationally. The group of pieces belonging to MASP is the only one still remaining from this production and includes articles of clothing from different fashion collections. Each garment is a custom-made, unique piece made solely for promoting the brand. Keenly aware of international fashion trends in the 1960s – one of the most revolutionary periods in the history of fashion – Rangan was a source of information regarding international trends that was reprocessed through the combined effort of artists and fashion designers. Rangan’s choice of artists revealed his interest in dialoguing with contemporary art, and the designs they produced reflect the main trends in art and fashion in those years. Rhodia’s fashion spectacles had a powerful impact on the media thanks to the participation of well-known Brazilian artists and musicians, boosting the Brazilian fashion system. MASP’s fashion collection included pieces with fabric patterns designed by artists who worked with geometric abstraction, such as Willys de Castro (1926–1988), Hércules Barsotti (1914–2010), Antonio Maluf (1926–2005), Waldemar Cordeiro (1925–1973), and Alfredo Volpi (1896–1988); with informal abstraction, such as Manabu Mabe (1924–1997) and Antonio Bandeira (1922–1967); with popular Brazilian references, such as Carybé (1911–1997), Aldemir Martins (1922–2006), Lula Cardoso Ayres (1910–1987), Heitor dos Prazeres (1898–1966), Manezinho Araújo (1910–1993), Gilvan Samico (1928–2013), Francisco Brennand and Carmélio Cruz; and by others, associated with pop art, such as Nelson Leirner and Carlos Vergara. MASP’s Rhodia Collection evidences the creative potential of a collaboration between art, fashion, design and industry, which has remained unique and unparalleled in Brazil until today, inspiring creativity and new discussions in the current fashion scene.