b. 1982, Southern California
Chadwick Bell’s bold white garment, a translation of a whitework quilt, alludes to the neoclassical inclination toward pure and classical forms when the c. 1800–1820 bed cover was made—a reaction against the opulence of the preceding baroque and rococo eras. His use of white also references the white surfaces of Greek and Roman sculpture—a “terrible” misconception, he explained, as classical statues were painted in vibrant, even garish colors. “There was this idea of the white surfaces, but those sculptures were actually painted. My use of white is kind of a play on what was really happening with what really happened.” It is within this complex context that Bell presents the purity and simplicity of his all-white ensemble.
While conceptualizing his design, Bell noticed that the forms of the cornucopias in the quilt bore a resemblance to curving shapes and elaborate detailing of paisleys, a likeness he attributed to the intense cultural and economic exchange between Europe, Asia, and America during the nineteenth century. “There was a lot of trading happening at the time and a lot of [materials] from India coming over, so you have the paisley motif that was being dispersed around the world and that had an influence on this quilt,” Bell explained. Inspired by this similarity between the motifs, Bell hand-quilted the paisley pattern onto the cloth. It is the austerity of this garment that links Bell’s design for this project to the collections he thoughtfully presents every season.chadwickbell.com