Fans of artist L.A.-based artist Sterling Ruby didn’t have to wait long to get their hands on pieces from his debut apparel collection, some of which were available online Thursday — the same day he sent S.R. STUDIO. LA. CA. Collection 1 down the runway in a former Florentine hay barn.
Ruby presented his inaugural unisex ready-to-wear apparel offering Thursday as a special guest of the international fashion fair Pitti Immagine Uomo 96, and, although we weren’t on hand for the show (and, therefore, won’t be offering up a proper review), it’s worth sharing some of the post-show images and inspiration because both include references to the artist’s adopted Golden State home.
According to the post-show notes, the collection (well, actually four collections under one umbrella label; a main line; one that uses fabrics made in house; another offering limited-run pieces; and a fourth consisting of one-off pieces) is “autobiographical, a chart through cloth of Ruby’s life, influences, fantasies and realities: his story.”
It’s story that begins in the rural Pennsylvania where the artist grew up — references in the collection include overalls, patchwork quilting and the distinctive wardrobe of the Amish and Mennonites. And it rolls west to California, which is referenced both explicitly (like the state’s silhouette on voluminous intarsia knit sweaters and form-fitting leggings) and implicitly. The West Coast’s reputation as the center of the premium blue jean business is showcased in a deep bench of denim offerings; matching trousers and barn coats in bright mineral-wash shades of pink, green or yellow; trench coats crafted from dark raw denim; and prairie-style skirts and dresses in bleach-faded indigo.
Although album cover art (heavy metal and punk), allover prints (the aforementioned California silhouette and the S.R. STUDIO. LA. CA. name among them) and photo-print florals crop up occasionally, the collection is heaviest on the paint-splatter-style designs (perhaps not surprisingly for an autobiographical debut collection by an artist). They range in size from tiny pinpoints of swirly white bleach spatters against a dark background evoking the infinite cosmos to the super-sized dark splotches that could have been borrowed from a herd of Holsteins.