Cathedral chorus’ and a transient, dreamlike state of mind are all you need for Nepenthe. But let’s get some fashion inspiration to go with it.
I’m trying really, really hard to get back into yoga and meditation. Mainly because I’m impatient and stubborn and if I can’t stop for five minutes a day to chaturanga all the bullshit of my day into a few, deep breaths and bodily movements, then I’m an uptight you-know-what. To help with this quest for quietude, I’ll employ the choral wonders of Julianna Barwick’s third album Nepenthe. The rich orchestral ambiance of the album makes its name all the more applicable. In Homer’s Odyssey, nepenthe is a drug that banishes trouble or grief from a person’s mind. Add this album to your visual medicine chill-out regimen and you’ll be set.
There’s a cathedral cadence to songs like “Offing” and “The Harbinger” that suggest a purity and a quiet mystery in the beginning of Barwick’s work. To grasp that visual, we’ll go to Fall 2013 at Valentino where collared, Calvinist dresses were cut short to give a seductive edge to a chaste silhouette. Maria Grazia Chiuri and Pierpaolo Piccioli’s inspiration from the painting Girl With the Pearl Earring captures some of the intimate femininity that we also hear in Nepenthe. The album is minimal, but certainly not one note. The album was recorded in Iceland and being surrounded by nature will always do your album some good. We’ll look at Phoebe Philo’s collection at Celine for that fusion of warmth and energy with Earth. The variety of textures in a series of cream and ivory give the clothes warmth, texture and a connection with natural textiles. It doesn’t shout, but does send a siren song.
Nepenthe is minimal and multi-layered. There’s so much in the music and sadness in lyrics, like a landscape at dusk. I thought of Uncle Karl’s Chanel collection that contrasted tough, strong textiles with delicate femininity in Pre-Fall 2013 . Something weirdly cool about Lagerfeild’s work is on the surface, it can be a little depressing. But a closer look at the metallic threads woven into dark tweeds, wovens and the interplay of hard and soft textures shed a happier light on the garments. Barwick envelops her voice in the same practice; somehow she can layer and layer but her songs remain light and airy.
Speaking of airy, we aren’t packing up our tent of nature inspiration without Rodarte. The Mullavey sisters take a softer hand to their angel in the west inspiration. The models were draped in swaths of fabric and stomped down the runway in heavily detailed shoes by Nicholas Kirkwood. Strength melding with softness, light and dark, delicate and tough. Nepenthe is all of this and in a visual context, all you’ll need for the forthcoming fall season.