The Serpentine presented Passer-by, an exhibition by Atelier E.B, the collaborative fashion label by designer Beca Lipscombe and artist Lucy McKenzie.
Taking the figure of the mannequin as its central theme, the exhibition transformed the Gallery into three distinct interiors: a bespoke showroom for Atelier E.B’s latest collection, in which visitors were able to try on and order clothes; a display of historic material, photography and objects, and a series of newly-commissioned works by contemporary artists including Tauba Auerbach, Anna Blessmann, Marc Camille Chaimowicz, Steff Norwood, Elizabeth Radcliffe, Bernie Reid and Markus Selg. Along with collaborations with artists Markus Proschek, Josephine Pryde and Calum Stirling and photographer Zoë Ghertner, the show featured the work of more than 30 makers spanning fashion, sculpture, painting, graphic and commercial design, photography, craft and film. Passer-by was a hybrid dreamscape – part World Fair pavilion, part retail emporium – and explored the future of retail display in the digital age.
The Atelier E.B showroom was open at weekends 10am to 6pm for visitors to try on their new collection Jasperwear and order directly through Atelier E.B. A selection of garments and accessories were also available to purchase and take home from our exhibition shop.
Atelier E.B creates fashion collections, commissioned displays and interiors, as well as textiles, live events and publications. At the Serpentine, Lipscombe and McKenzie explored the relationships between art, design, commerce and display. Mannequins are part of the rich history of display in consumer culture and for this exhibition, Atelier E.B extensively researched their roles in the World Fairs and Expositions of the twentieth century through to iconic department stores, ethnographic museums and fashion retail under Communism.
The Serpentine exhibition explored this research through Atelier E.B’s selection of historic sculptures, photographs and objects, including works by mannequin-maker Adel Rootstein, sculptor Rudolf Belling, artist Fred Wilson and fashion photographer Pasquale De Antonis among many others. These interests extended to the history of window dressing and its expert ‘trimmers’, including Gene Moore, Natasha Kroll and Michael Haynes, whose relationship with cultural institutions created a template for exhibiting contemporary fashion that is enjoyed by the wider public today.
Collaboration is at the core of Atelier E.B’s practice, which is characterised by a passion for working with artisan materials and quality-led production methods. For this exhibition, Lipscombe and McKenzie invited a number of contemporary artists to produce a mannequin or display device on which to present garments from Atelier E.B’s previous fashion collections. These artists recognise the cultural significance of clothing within their own practice and are customers and collaborators of the label.
Jasperwear, Atelier E.B’s highly anticipated new collection, features cashmere wovens, merino and jersey knitwear, jewellery, tracksuits, shirts, skirts and outerwear, as well as an umbrella, incorporates collaborations with labels and manufacturers they admire, including Vionnet, Ratti and Fulton. The Jasperwear collection was showcased in a series of interiors within the exhibition, including a trompe l’oeil shop window, a dressing room for visitors to try on and order items, new works by Atelier E.B and artists Markus Proschek and Calum Stirling.
Lafayette Anticipations – Fondation d’entreprise Galeries Lafayette, Paris, is co-producer of two new works in the exhibition and will welcome Atelier E.B’s Passer-by tour in February 2019, following its Serpentine run.
The exhibition was accompanied by a digital Mobile Tour supported by Bloomberg Philanthropies and a free downloadable Exhibition Guide.