Maria Francesca Pepe has created a mysterious underworld in the vestibule. Pagan patterns in salt fence off mannequins and fairy like models who fit seamlessly into the secretive, coded Masonic interiors. The atmosphere felt like a discovery of an ancient burial ground or a new dimension, and we were explorers and scientists studying pixie life forms and cult rituals. As Maria put it herself she aimed for a “magical and enchanting fairytale”. The three models had spritely features with enormous eyes, tiny noses and thin porcelain flesh. It was as though these creatures had been captured and preserved, it was a shock to see their big, black eyes flash and their chests rise and fall with gentle breaths. They were dusted with a pearl powder and watery crystals. These models bore a remarkable resemblance to Minority Report’s ‘Pre-Cogs’ in terms of their delicate innocence and foreign character.
The jewellery was harsh and aggressive with more tender clothing, they worked as one being; a collaborated costume. There were unicorn horns embellished with small gold studs growing from hooded faces. These were adorned with delicate metal and crystal masks. Chunky centipedes of gold became cuffs and chokers enhanced with yet more pointed studs. Gothic church cabinets encased considered jewellery displays on animal horns, adorned with gnarled prints of the fairy life forms. The safety pin words and letters are very wearable and serve a dual purpose as decoration and fastening. Many pieces were relevant in current jewellery trends with grungy three finger rings and dangling religious and cult symbols. Show stoppers were elbow brushing leather cuffs bejewelled with gold and pearl studs and knee high, distressed leather shin pads. The shoes were elegantly minimalist juxtaposed with harsh gold spears through the ankles and animal heads. Pepe sees her jewellery as “amulets”. The garments were subtle and elegant. Pepe used stretch sheer to create an entire body suit. There were structural leather pieces which came in the form of crop tops and loose waistcoats. Modest jersey leggings and tube skirts were teamed with graphic printed tees. The colour palate was simple black and off-white accented with gold and pearl jewellery. A striking and memorable exhibition with high desirable and dramatic wearable pieces.
Words : Charlotte Summers
Images : Ezzidin Alwan
Illustration : Andy Bumpus