Picture the scene: it’s the mid-1940s and Henri Matisse, one of the most vital artists of the 20th century, is bedbound following an abdominal cancer diagnosis. Unable to paint or sculpt, he turns to the art of decoupage. With oils no longer a choice, he moves to the simpler materials of paper and gouache, creating the high colour cut-out collages which secured his artistic legacy.
While his paintings and sculpture will live on forever as some of the most seminal and influential works of the last century, these collages have found a larger life as a geometric and bright visual inspiration for designers in the new millennium, thanks in part to major exhibitions at Tate Modern and MoMA. The spirit of Matisse was alive and well during the first day of London Fashion Week Men’s this month, with many designers choosing to create energetic pieces inspired by the artist’s multi-chromatic oeuvre.
Bethany Williams, arguably the stand out show of the day, sent out a wide array of denim winter co-ords, cagoules and tracksuits finished with brightly coloured painted motifs. At Charles Jeffrey Loverboy the designer showed a series of raver-style shell suits finished with a logo-clad Matisse-meets-Mondrian pattern, while at Nicholas Daley the look had more of a tie dye bent.
A slightly different take on the trend came at Per Gotteson, where the Swedish designer showed a series of gilets and denim pieces finished with collages by British artist Patrick Waugh.
When it comes to rocking your own Matisse-inspired look, a simpler way to do it is to invest in a few key primary hued items - a scarlet sweater for instance, or a pair of green desert boots - and team with bleached basics. A pair of white jeans, perhaps, or a white oxford shirt. That way you’ll be channelling the spirit of not only Matisse but David Hockney too, and there ain’t nothing bad about that.
Shop the look
Clarks $86 at Endclothing.com
Uniqlo $105 at Uniqlo.com
Dolce & Gabbana $549 at dolcegabbana.com
Uniqlo $33 at Uniqlo.com