The Genteel
November 24, 2017
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Artist Graziano Cecchini at the exhibition of the Three Graces in Rome. Photograph courtesy of Graziano Cecchini and Ludovica Cirillo.
The Trend mannequin is designed to
reflect the need to turn disused
materials into new products.
Photograph courtesy of Graziano
Cecchini and Ludovica Cirillo.

"Nothing comes from nothing." So contends the ancient Greek philosophical principle that pervades the historical narrative from Shakespeare to Antoine-Laurent Lavoisier's writings on the law of conservation of mass.

The principle also perfectly represents the concept of the X-Arte project, which was presented on July 6 at the First Luxury Art Hotel in Rome to coincide with the opening of Alta Roma Alta Moda A/W 2012-13 (ARAM). The project aims to align high fashion with recycled materials by creating unique works of art from donated scraps of fabric. 

Italian neo-futurist artist Graziano Cecchini (well-known for dyeing the Trevi Fountain's water red in 2007) and young fashion designer Ludovica Cirillo, creator of ByLudo jewellery made from recycled earphones, headphones and keyboards, came up with the concept behind X-Arte. "We want to approach the high fashion world with the goal of artistic recycling by showing how scraps of fabrics and apparently useless and old technological objects we use everyday, can be prime materials to create exclusive masterpieces," Cirillo explains.

Five Italian fashion labels (Renato BalestraCamillo BonaGattinoniSarli Couture and Piattelli) participated by giving Cirillo and Cecchini discarded materials from their ateliers. With their strategic collaboration with five big Italian brands, Cecchini and Cirillo hope to open people's minds to the philosophy of eco-luxury.

Cecchini and Cirillo's first artwork for X-Arte is entitled The Three Graces, and is inspired by the 1812 marble sculpture of the same name by neoclassical Italian artist Antonio Canova. The duo interpreted Canova's artwork, replacing the three daughters of Zeus - Euphrosyne, Aglaia and Thalia, who were said to represent mirth, elegance and beauty, respectively - with three 3.7 metre mannequins from the Sarli Couture atelier. The mannequins represent a modern version of each of the "three Graces," and represent Need, Trend and Idea with a long drape of blue fabric given by designer Renato Balestra around their feet.

Our contemporary artwork displays the importance of joining Italian high quality handicraft with technology and recycling.

"Our contemporary artwork The Three Graces symbolises the importance of combining high quality Italian handicraft with technology and recycling. By constructing the base of The Three Graces with a computer case and microchips cards, we wanted to show that high fashion should use technological innovations nowadays to be cutting-edge and more attractive to consumers," explains Cirillo. "On the base there are a few live wires wound on a huge wooden reel. The wires evoke thread in a needle's eye, which represents highly-skilled Italian handicraft. Without these two elements, such as technology and handicraft, our Three Graces, Need, Trend and Idea, cannot exist," Cirillo continues.

In this way, the modern Three Graces seems to send fashion the message to reinvent itself according to cutting-edge and eco-friendly products buyers in modern society require.

Need is the gold and black mannequin dressed with Camillo Bona lace and plexiglass by Gattinoni. It has a broken leg "to demonstrate that fashion doesn't have to target only perfect bodies, it has to be for everyone, because why not, even imperfection can be glamourous!"

Trend is the mannequin in a Bruno Piattelli white gilet decorated with computer wires and keyboards. It represents the actual trend of turning materials no longer in use into new products with different functions: the men's gilet, for example, can become an original shawl embellished by keyboard parts as though they were Swarovski crystals.

The artwork encourages audiences to
appreciate recycled materials as fashion.
Photograph courtesy of  
Graziano Cecchini and Ludovica Cirillo.

Finally, Idea is the mannequin in green lace because as Cirillo explains, "green evokes the colour of nature where matter can neither be created nor destroyed, but can be transformed. And the five big brands involved in the X Arte project are always ready to dare in crossing the border of creativity to transform their discarded materials into a great idea."

The modern Three Graces was even noticed by Maxxi Architettura in Rome, Italy's first national museum of architecture. In September, Cecchini and Cirillo will present their work at the YAP (Young Architects Program), an annual program to promote young architects in partnership with Maxxi in Rome. 

Behind an ambitious project of contemporary art, X Arte encourages a new way to appreciate fashion and luxury - through recycling. A simple tool or discarded fabric can be turned into artwork, lending the object a new lease on life by changing its purpose. Cecchini and Cirillo created their one of-a-kind pieces with a variety of objects from the five generous ateliers, including everything from tables and chairs, to hangers and buttons.

The Three Graces could serve as a template for a proper industrial line, however in the next few months the pair intend to release a furniture collection inspired by fashion which includes oddball contemporary art recycled tables and bookshelves.

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