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February 07, 2008

Crisp Tailoring

Posted in: Ensembles

Miguel Adrover

Miguel Adrover (American, born Spain, 1965). Coat and Skirt Ensemble with Vintage Fendi Scarf, fall/winter 2000–1. Coat: blue and white striped cotton twill mattress ticking. Skirt: beige and white striped cotton twill. Scarf: ivory silk with allover double interlocked “F” logo print, navy band trim, and burgundy tie-dyed pattern. Gift of Miguel Adrover, 2005 (2005.44.1a–c).

This design from Miguel Adrover’s second collection was described by Cathy Horyn of The New York Times as “a simple but respectable Sunday-going-to-church outfit out of a Willa Cather story.” Its faded, dusty colors and worn surface made Horyn’s reference especially apt. However, the ensemble took on other evocative connotations—either macabre or poignant depending on one’s point of view—when Adrover noted that the fabric was taken from the discarded mattress of the late Quentin Crisp. The designer’s salvaging of this piece of urban detritus, with its forlorn history of wear and rusty stains, and transforming it into a tailored coat was less recycling than poetic reinvention. Like Martin Margiela, Adrover incorporates the Dadaist strategy of unexpected recontextualizations. In this instance, a classically tailored coat is invested with the resonance of a very public person’s intensely personal history.

At the time the homeless had no ticking, Giuliani kicked it out of the shelters. Like England kicked out Quentin Crisp for the way he was; but I [heart] NY gave him a mattress. A mattress like the one I am now consulting (over) and writing from, remembering . . . a f[—]ing freezing night on Third Street between First and Second Avenue covered by a thin layer of snow. He was lying down on the sidewalk, the bodiless mattress. But with a lot of knowledge, the knowledge of sharing someone’s dream of freedom, something priceless, like the ticking fabric that I was lucky to rescue from conventionalism, trying to bring some light to the memory of my once neighbor.

—Miguel Adrover

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