Rediscovering Sansó in contemporary couture | Lifestyle.INQ

OCTOBER 27, 2022

Sansó’s textile designs include bright hues of orange and pink.
Sansó’s textile designs include bright hues of orange and pink.

The name Juvenal Sansó immediately conjures images of vibrant landscapes and seascapes of the French region of Brittany, his paintings that brought him great fame here in the Philippines and abroad. But in 1950s France, during the early period of his career, the Spanish-born artist designed costumes for six operas and created vigorous abstract prints that were bought by House of Balenciaga to be made into silk scarves.

“It’s an aspect of his early career that a lot of people are still unaware of, so we are presenting this part of his life, his career, to the general public,” said Robbie Santos, founder and designer of Septieme Rebelle.

The professor-turned-fashion designer was tapped by Fundacion Sansó to bring to light this important phase of the artist’s career through contemporary couture pieces inspired by the textile prints.

It took over a year to mount the exhibit due to changing health protocols, but on Dec. 9, “Sansó Textile Designs x Septieme Rebelle” was officially opened to the public at Galerie Joaquin, at One Bonifacio High Street Mall in Bonifacio Global City.

Ricky Francisco, director of Fundacion Sansó, said they had considered moving the exhibit online due to the unpredictable changes, but they changed gears when Santos presented his creations.

“He made this violet piece and when you look at it, it just looks like a dark violet skirt. But if you look closely, you will see that every square inch has 16 beads that have the same color as the textile. He was so detail-oriented that we had to show it in a physical space,” Francisco said.

Prints from the ’50s, ’60s

Robbie Santos adds his trademark asymmetrical cut to his recent collaboration with Fundacion Sansó.

Santos created 38 looks, or 76 pieces, for the much-awaited exhibition. The clothes are inspired by Sansó’s wildly colorful prints that were created from the late ’50s to the ’60s. Santos sourced fabrics that were very close to Sansó’s works and turned them into printed pants and jackets for men and women. There were also asymmetrical gowns and tops and coats with dramatic trains.

But the most outstanding piece, one that captured the brightness and brilliance of Sansó’s works, was an orange mermaid dress with floral appliqués around the plunging neckline. So it came as a surprise that Santos was not the biggest fan of the color orange.

“Usually I like beiges, grays, blacks and violets. But that’s not Sansó. And in order for me to give deference and respect to Sansó, I had to consider his palette, which is oranges, reds, a lot of turquoise. I had to strike a balance between these colors and the prints, big and small, with my design aesthetic,” Santos said.

“I really look at it as work. And when I commit myself to something, I’m really there 100 percent. So, if the palette of Sansó calls for oranges, then of course I’m going to make that. I dedicated myself to the production for maybe six, seven months of 2020,” he told Lifestyle in an online interview.

Happy balance

Sansó-inspired menswear by Septieme Rebelle

While Santos’ works may seem to be a departure from his previous collections, a closer inspection of his works showed that his trademark design is still there, from the asymmetric cuts and lines.

“When you examine the fabric closely, that’s when you will see it, but upon first glance, of course, what you will see is Sansó. I just put myself somewhere in the equation, just so we will have a happy balance for the collaboration,” he said.

He also made the pieces into luxury separates. This gives his clients the option to mix and match his pieces with street brands and other items. It also adds chicness to the look.

Francisco said the capsule collection comes more than 50 years after the prints were created, but these were translated into contemporary design through Santos’ luxury pieces. The museum director also noted that the exhibit shines a light during a crucial point in Sansó’s career, one that ultimately opened up paths for his artistic development.

“For us, as a museum, this project helped us understand the importance of textile design in the story of Mr. Sansó in his evolution as an artist, aside from it being the bread and butter in the early years. It also opened up a lot of connections for him that enabled him to go into fine arts,” said Francisco. INQ

“Sansó Textile Designs X Septième Rebelle: A Fashion and Art Exhibit” is on view until Dec. 20 at Galerie Joaquin, One Bonifacio High Street Mall, Taguig City. Follow @fundacion_sanso, @septiemerebelle on Instagram.