Maiden Art

The design duo behind Italian label Maiden Art reveal that jewellery and small accessories are just an aspect of their multi-faceted brand.

Text by Anna Battista

The maiden voyage of Gabriele Negri and Maristella Colombo’s label started three years ago when they launched their Maiden Art project. Though the label is better known for its jewellery and accessories, the main aim behind it is launching art projects that reunite different disciplines, from music to visual arts.

At the moment the design duo is looking for avant-garde bands to be featured on a special Maiden Art compilation, while the label is also celebrating its Autumn/Winter 2009-10 collection. Entitled “The Black Vinyl Collection”, it features a wide range of pieces and a special series of black leather jewels. The collection includes romantic leather butterflies, orchids and bows used to decorate necklaces, rings, bracelets and brooches, but also darker and more aggressive unisex pieces such as leather scarves, armbands and chokers characterised by laser cut motifs.

Where does the name for your label come from?
Gabriele Negri: Apart from being designers I’m a musician and Maristella is a video artist and photographer. The main idea behind Maiden Art is creating different forms of art that develop and change with the times. When we founded the label we felt we wanted to create little wearable works of art and conceptual designs rather than just accessories. For a previous collection, for example, we did a robot-shaped USB pen drive necklace that featured original songs composed and produced by ourselves.

Maristella, what prompted you to move from video art to fashion?
Maristella Colombo: I first started working as an illustrator then passed onto photography and video art. I took part in various exhibitions both in Italy and abroad and while living in London I developed a multimedia project that I presented at the Biennial of Young Artists from Europe and the Mediterranean. The project, based on a performance and a video, focused on fashion and visual arts and featured designs made with Japanese paper and photographs. In a way it was this project that inspired me to enter the world of fashion.

Your latest collection features quite a few leather pieces, what do you like about this material?
Maristella Colombo: We like decontextualising materials and recontextualising them. We have done the same with leather, a material we love and that we tried to use in unusual ways. We did different experiments with this material, one of the most difficult - yet most satisfying - was working on a scarf that featured a laser cut motif. First we had to find a way to transform the leather into a very soft and thin fabric-like material, and then we had to elaborate and rework it. It was a long process, but it was also engaging and we were very happy with the final results.

Would you like to design clothes one day?
Maristella Colombo: Yes, we would like to. One of our dreams is starting a men and women’s wear collection. We are at the moment focusing on accessories since it can be easier to reach out to different countries and markets, indeed we already distribute our pieces a bit everywhere in the world, from Denmark to Japan. The competition is really fierce out there when it comes to clothes and you need to have a budget as well to start, but it would be interesting to apply our Maiden Art ethos also to a clothing line and see what we could come up with. We have been thinking also about combining clothes and jewellery and creating a jewellery couture line.

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