Rowan Mersh is an unlikely couturier. However, with two fabric sculptures in the Victoria and Albert Museum, he deserves a tip of the hat from designers and artists alike. Having experimented with such mediums as wood, glass and even fire, Mersh began his affair with fabric in 2005 while studying at London’s Royal College of Art. A result of what the artist describes as a “self indulgent gamble,” his fabric sculptures are meant to brush aside the pre-existing notions and commercial contexts through which fabric is perceived.
The works are surreal structures that both devour and caress the human form. But don’t get too excited, Mersh maintains that his pieces are not “sculptural fashion items” but freestanding sculptures. The bodies on which they hang are merely props in his installations or photographic documentations; they are architectural elements intended to “create scale and movement.” This is indeed a shame, as the blossoming black and white chapeau-esque forms from the “External Tumours” series would have been worthy crowns for the late style icon Isabella Blow.
In 2008, Mersh finished a commission for London’s Somerset House. The untitled work is an abstract compilation of lace, velvet, and polka dot fabric balls that comes to life, appearing to twist and thrash in space. Resembling a designer DNA strand, the piece’s aggressive presence is contrasted by its delicate ingredients and soothing texture.
While he does not consider himself to be a fashion designer, rather a sculptor, artist and explorer of materials, Mersh is undeniably a style innovator.
Click here to check out the designer’s website.