EVA & ADELE IN NJAL DESIGNS

...art and fashion fusion

by Hanne Christiansen
NOT JUST A LABEL met up with contemporary art icons Eva and Adele in Berlin. What was initially meant to be just a friendly catch-up soon developed into an informal exchange of costume ideas, as the “pink twins” of the art world told NJAL about their interests in the many spectacular designers on our design directory. The pair decided to invite NJAL designers to create unique pieces for their appearances in 2010, and the two labels chosen were Shakkei by Gabriel Baradee and Slavna Martinovic.

Having browsed the major artistic expressions of the art world for more than ten years, all while travelling through the world in their stylized pink motor home, Eva and Adele have become popular living figures of contemporary art. Considering that “everything they do and are is a work of art", they have developed an outstanding concept of production based on ideas of permanent interchange with the public, in a real symbiosis between art and mass culture and between public and private life.

What matters to Eva and Adele is not only the work of art itself, but the very notion of art. The idea of art in life and life in art is what guides the artists in their constant effort to free themselves of pre-established universal paradigms in order to seize reality as it really is. "There is a high price to pay,” they say. “We cross the existing gender to create a new one. As artists, it opens up for us an experimental field that is far more significant; socially, the limits unveil themselves more confusingly; in a general manner, people accept the difference, but if one is not gay, nor lesbian, nor hetero, then a great silence settles."

Eva and Adele want to inspire courage in people to abolish the strength of existing hierarchies so that each can live and work according to his or her own self-determination. This ideology of an individualistic community within the arts was perfectly perceived and translated into design by NJAL designers Slavna Martinovic, and Gabriel Baradee of Shakkei.

Gabriel Baradee, the German designer behind the label Shakkei, designed the outfits worn by Eva and Adele to Art Basel Miami Beach in December last year:

“On a bright and sunny summer day, I found myself on the way to Berlin to meet the magnificent artists Eva and Adele. For a long time I have been profoundly impressed, not only by the uniqueness of their art work, but also by their many stunning appearances at the most important art events around the world.

I designed two kimonos for the twins; not kimonos in the traditional sense, but a respectful “quotation” of it, a homage to the garment itself but a stylised version enhanced with cherry blossoms. To reference specific aspects of Eva and Adele, I created large handmade couture bows as a symbol of their dualism. The uniqueness of the kimonos themselves is meant as a reference to the pair’s individualism. The combination of suitability for daily use and extravagance for that special show-effect was an interesting challenge. Furthermore, the kimonos had to look great on pictures, because Eva and Adele are always in the focus of press photographers.

Like Eva and Adele themselves, I am committed to preciseness and details, and I wanted the pieces to be perfect, both on and off camera. It took 20 hours of patternmaking, 65 hours of printing and two hours of hand sewing to deliver the two dresses to the artists. Luckily, they were a success, and the twins looked nothing but stunning at Art Basel Miami Beach.”

Slavna Martinovic told us about her designs, which Eva and Adele will be wearing to Switzerland’s Art Basel in June this year:

“I first discovered Eva and Adele in the mid-nineties, in Florence Müller’s book Excentriques. I remember thinking that Adele looked like a fabulous drag queen-version of Elisabeth Taylor with a shaved head on the cover of the book. At the time I had shaved my head myself, and I was sporting similar kind of maquillage. I thought to myself that there must be connection… and ten years later – as life would have it – I read on NJAL that the delightful pair was looking for new outfit designs for their performances. Just two months after, I was on my way to Berlin to meet the twins with their two perfectly custom-tailored white and fuchsia suits of fine crêpe silk.

I designed the twin set suits (pun intended) inspired by their peculiar heart obsession and of course in the only two colours suitable: pink and white. I made the cuffs on the sleeves out of transparent fuchsia taffeta silk; and to make things even more characteristic of Eva and Adele, I filled them with sparkly sequence, crystals and stars. The suits were finished off with amazing adornment of hand crochet, and my very own speciality of painted and embroidered shoulder accessory. I think the best way to describe it all is just that it is part fairytale, part mermaid, and fully wonderful luxury fit for true eccentricity royalty!”

At NJAL we are proud of the numerous collaboration opportunities with key figures from the art, music and fashion industries we are able to offer to our designers. Experiences such as these are an important milestone in a young designer’s career and we thank all supporting celebrities who made these success stories possible. Well done, Gabriel and Slavna!