I wouldn’t call Barry Dixon a boho interior designer, but it’s certainly part of his home decor bag of tricks. Now he’s debuted a fourth collection of home interiors furniture and accessories for Arteriors that draws inspiration from “Savage Beauty,” the milestone Metropolitan Museum of Art exhibition chronicling fashion designer Alexander McQueen’s body of work. It’s also a line any boho mama would love to furnish her digs with, so long as she has deep pockets.
Dixon admits this collection seems darker than his three previous ones because, like McQueen’s designs, it shows the aggressive side of nature, which can be even more fascinating—and yes, beautiful. His many-layered spaces have always reflected an appreciation of other cultures and times, but this collection makes that even more apparent.
Dixon’s father was a metallurgist for a German company and moved the family to exotic cities all over the world. So you’ll see reflected in the collection influences of his childhood homes—India, Pakistan, Korea, New Caledonia and South Africa—as well as his current home in the rolling Virginia countryside near DC.
All said, it’s a to-die-for collection and, if not actually savage, it is, indeed, fierce.
Take the Aramis Sconce, for instance—Dixon’s favorite of the fledgling flock…
|Alexander McQueen via the Metropolitan Museum of Art/Barry Dixon via Arteriors|
McQueen’s knight’s ensemble was part of his 2005 spring/summer collection, It’s Only a Game, in which all outfits in the collection were chess pieces, moved about an onstage board, with an electronic voice calling out moves and models shifted or eliminated until the game reached checkmate.
This sconce is so original—“avant-garde and commanding,” Dixon says, and I agree. It’s cast in brass with a convex glass shield and a brass wire “ponytail” and sells for $1350. The collection also includes three companion pieces…
…a table lamp, pendant, and convex mirror, priced at $1140, $1800, and $360, respectively.
Since I’ll never be able to afford any of them, I’m hoping he’ll issue earrings just like the sconce. Seriously!! They’d be hot AF. And boho, too. Don’t forget that.
‘Metamorphosis is a bit like plastic surgery’
|Alexander McQueen via The Met/Arteriors|
Plato’s Atlantis was the theme for McQueen’s 2010 spring/summer collection, and his quote in the heading for this section could easily refer the origins of this dress. It was originally constructed as two separate dresses of quite different fabrics, a non-stretchy woven and a pliable jersey. Each began whole, one layered over the other on a mannequin. McQueen then cut into them bravely and morphed the two dresses together.
The chrysalis is what the emerging butterfly leaves behind, what it pushes out of to become something delicate, beautiful and fleeting. But the chrysalis is a thing of beauty in its own right for Dixon, like the expertly cut overlay on McQueen’s dress. Dixon’s Chrysalis Sconce is cast in solid brass as tribute to that miracle of mother nature and retails for $1680.
An earring version for this one, too, please!
Offensive or defensive? Passive or aggressive?
McQueen definitely played with opposites in his collections. And while I can’t be sure which of his creations served as inspiration for the Touche Table Lamp and Sconce, I picked out two that seem to work. All of the models in the McQueen design house’s fall/winter 2013-14 collection wore jeweled masks like the one shown in the top photo. The master had already passed away by then, but one wonders if the collection was still drawn from his sketches and idea files. The bottom dress is from the 2009-10 fall/winter collection Horn of Plenty. It’s comprised of dyed duck feathers and has come to be known as “The Raven,” but it bears a striking resemblance to a fencing mask in overall form.
Dixon’s lights look most like the real thing—antique fencing masks. But he captures the implicit uneasiness always present in McQueen as well. Arteriors puts it this way: “Dixon’s latest offerings draw inspiration from nature’s inspiring dichotomy of eloquent functionality, curating a modern collection of organic abstraction meant to protect the vulnerable and intimidate the threatening.”
Yeah, what they said. I could have used a pair of these in my office when I still worked in corporate America.Cast in iron and blackened with burnt wax, the table lamp retails for $1080 and the sconce for $600.
No earrings for this one, but maybe a brooch? Extra large and extra fierce.
A thorny perspective
|Sølve Sundsbø via The Met/Arteriors/Alexander McQueen via The Met|
Dixon’s Spiked Mirror, has a lot in common with the frock coat from McQueen’s 1992 graduation collection, Jack the Ripper Stalks His Victims. Both reference thorns, which work either for protection or as weapons. Think rose bushes, porcupines, even barbed wire. McQueen didn’t stop there. He lined the thorn-patterned pink silk satin of this inspiration jacket with white silk and encapsulated human hair (see lining close-up, bottom right).
“The inspiration behind the hair came from Victorian times when prostitutes would sell theirs for kits of hair locks, which were bought by people to give to their lovers,” McQueen told Time Out London in 1997. “I used it as my signature label with locks of hair in Perspex. In the early collections, it was my own hair.”
Victorian history obviously fascinated McQueen, and he claimed one of his own relatives owned an inn that housed a ripper victim. A teacher at Central St. Martins College of Art and Design, Louise Wilson, said the required marketing report for the collection even included a genealogy of Jack the Ripper. “Unfortunately, the report was stolen out of my office, possibly by Lee.”
Indeed. But I digress…
Dixon’s mirrors, alas, contain no hair, human or otherwise, and the iron frame retains its natural finish, in case you were wondering.
Available in three shapes—round, square/diamond, and rectangle (horizontal or vertical)—they run $1050, $1350, and $2250, respectively. All are scaled to hang over dressers or consoles.
Coils of inspiration
|Sølve Sundsbø via The Met/Arteriors|
Dixon clearly fashioned his Somali Pendant after this coiled corset from McQueen’s fall/winter 1999-2000 collection, The Overlook. Both The Met and Arteriors use similar language to describe its derivation from the coiled necklaces of African tribes.
McQueen commissioned jeweler Shaun Leane to create the corset to emulate the necklaces, and Leane said it required concrete casts of the body of the model who would wear it. “Then I had to literally form every coil, one by one, front and back, and work all the way up, so that it was a perfect fit,” Leane explained. “There are tiny, little bolts [along the side, up the arms, beside the neck], so the model’s actually screwed into the piece.”
“I especially like the accessory for its sadomasochistic aspect,” McQueen quipped at the time. However, the corset was done in aluminum and was quite light. And though it looks restrictive, the model who wore it said it was quite comfortable.
“It’s a really beautiful silhouette of the female form,” Leane added. “The beautiful thing about…working with McQueen was that it helped me push the boundaries of how jewelry should be perceived and how it should be worn.”
Which is a perfect segue to Dixon’s pendant—jewelry for your ceiling! Cast in iron and gold-leafed, the Somali Pendant comes in small and large, priced at $1800 and $2400, respectively.
I could go for this design in a bracelet version or even a wide belt. What do you think?
No weeping willow here
|Sølve Sundsbø via The Met/Arteriors|
Admittedly, I’m torn on the inspiration for Dixon’s Willow Chair. Was it the pink and gray wool embroidered jacket and headdress in his spring/summer 2001 VOSS collection (above) or the ensemble of leather cuirass, lace skirt and hand-carved wooden prosthetic legs/boots created for model Aimee Mullins for his spring/summer 1999 collection, No. 13?
|Sølve Sundsbø via The Met|
Doesn’t matter. Regardless of how you look at it, the chair is a winner and has stolen my boho heart!
Made of hand-woven, boiled willow branches formed over a painted steel frame, I guarantee it will also steal the show in any living room, bedroom or office. It sells for $1800, and even though that’s too steep for me, no need to make a jewelry version. The Willow Chair is P.E.R.F.E.C.T. As is.
Stirring up a hornet’s nest
|Alexander McQueen via The Met/Arteriors|
Dixon says his “Frelon Pendant” was inspired by a hornets nest hanging under the eaves of one of his Virginia barns. “Frelon” is French for hornet, and who hasn’t admired their nests? (From a distance, of course!)
When McQueen died in February of 2010, he left an unfinished collection called Angels and Demons, which the dresses pictured here are from. His long-time chief designer Sarah Burton helped to complete the collection, and how The Met has displayed these dresses reminds me of hornets—beautiful ones—swirling about their nest.
The pendant’s organic, rippled layers allow diffuse light to ripple in bands out around the large smoked glass globe. It makes me think of the ocean, too—oyster shells opening to reveal huge Tahitian pearls.
All kidding aside…
Alexander McQueen was a genius. And an artist. According to The Met exhibition website, he “challenged and expanded the understanding of fashion beyond utility to a conceptual expression of culture, politics, and identity. His iconic designs constitute the work of an artist whose medium of expression was fashion.”
McQueen said himself (to Muse in 2000), “For me, what I do is an artistic expression which is channeled through me. Fashion is just the medium.” At another time he said, “You’ve got to know the rules to break them. That’s what I’m here for, to demolish the rules but to keep the tradition.”
Which kinda sorta in my mind makes him boho, too. Right?
And Dixon could have no better muse. His full collection includes 31 items—lighting, mirrors and accessories. I can’t wait to see more from this designer. (And those jewelry knock-offs, too!)
Follow the links to learn more about Barry Dixon and his Arteriors collection, including a downloadable lookbook and a video, as well as The Met’s “Savage Beauty” exhibition. And I’d be thrilled if you’d follow my blog with Bloglovin.