Back during the tail end of our first year living with the pandemic — 2020 for those who repressed the memory — Saint Laurent opened its first flagship store at Collins St in Melbourne. Now, almost two years on and the French fashion House is finally taking a moment to officially celebrate the store opening. How, you ask? Saint Laurent creative director, Anthony Vaccarello, has personally commissioned a suite of artworks from Australian artist Thomas Jeppe to be exhibited as part of the festivities.
At the heart of the exhibition is a series of two triptychs redolent of arcade architecture. In an move to inject the flagship with the character of its urban surroundings, this specific series gleans its name from the store's location, which is locally noted as the 'Paris End' of Collins St. The works themselves are black and white and deliberately geometric, with stark symmetry meant to reflect the two unifying cities.
The effect is immediate and Jeppe's artworks wholly complement the store's monochromatic style, with a nod to its details that hark back to the French modernist movement of the early 20th century. Speaking on his works, Jeppe said, "The cleaved sphere of the Paris skylights are both elemental protection and a glass ceiling … these hemispheres return as the duelling walls of a ravine".
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For guests who find themselves upstairs in the Saint Laurent VIP salon, you'll see the final centrepiece of the show, a single oil painting dubbed Melbourne End. The painting is far more fluid than the former artworks, featuring a figurative solitary character perched between two ambiguous landscapes, tying together the rigid and distinctly separate geometry of those located on the floor below.
Although born in Australia, Jeppe is currently practicing in Paris as both a painter and writer. He has exhibited in myriad leading contemporary galleries and institutions, meanwhile his résumé points to a series of projects peppered throughout Basel, Hamburg, Vienna and Paris that he has personally curated.
Paris End will be on display from May 19 to June 9 at the Saint Laurent Collins St store in Melbourne.