If Natalie du Pasquier’s recent collaboration with mass market retailers and fashion designers, are any indication, the Memphis look is back in style. For the American Apparel collaboration, Du Pasquier used a similar approach to develop her current designs, sketching with colored pencils and then using a cut and paste method to create her distinctive collage effect of color and pattern combinations. Du Pasquier’s designs for Memphis are well represented in Cooper-Hewitt’s collection, including this scarf, as well as textile designs for Italian retailer Fiorucci, wallpapers, and sketches for interiors and textiles.
In the late 1980s, journalist and fellow member of Memphis, Barbara Radice, wrote of du Pasquier’s work, “Her visual research is unrestrained, it absorbs everything like a sponge and nothing in particular. In the end it’s the collage that counts. Her hard, aggressive, acid patterns, her harsh flat colors, her broad, black, angular mark make no compromise…They are enthusiastic, explosive, exalted, elated, as striking as neon in a tropical night.” This scarf from 1983 embodies this description well, combining several patterns in bright flashes of colors which are symmetrically punctuated by sections of structured black and white stripes. The patterns are reminiscent of shapes appearing in nature- giraffe’s spots, single celled organisms, peeling tree bark- but are subverted into the unfamiliar with unexpected colors. These discordant combinations are visually both exciting and unsettling.
The beauty of a scarf is that while it can be appreciated as a flat surface, it is also intended as a fluid object to be interpreted by the wearer. Depending on how it is tied and worn, different sections would be visible, creating a whole new dialogue between the patterns. In the spirit of Memphis interiors, an adventurous dresser might have paired the scarf with a bright, multi-patterned dress or shirt, creating a vivid collage of color and shapes on the body.
Interior, 1985, Natalie du Pasquier. (Image Credit: Unknown from http://www.nathaliedupasquier.com/design.html)