Brooklyn-based painter Tessa Perutz founded Massif Central—named after the region in south-central France—as a way to merge her artistic pursuits: curatorial work, fashion, artist's editions and functional art objects. By inviting artists to consider the silk scarf as their canvas and create original works, "MC is a way for me to creatively combine all of this into a seamless, cohesive and beautifully striking artist’s multiple," Perutz tells CH.
The artwork is digitally printed onto the scarves—which are made in India—and the hems are hand-sewn. Perutz plans to collaborate with six artists per season, two seasons per year (spring/summer and fall/winter), with each design available in a limited edition of 50. This season, she's gathered a diverse selection of artists from the humorous, deep-thinking Joshua Abelow (who created a "Self Portrait") to 2014 John Simon Guggenheim Memorial Foundation Fellow Ellen Berkenblit, who have both come up with some memorable scarves that are almost too stunning to wear. (They were, in fact, framed and hung on the wall for Massif Central's launch party.)
While many of the artists involved in Massif Central's inaugural line were close friends of Perutz's, she reached out specifically to two artists whom she admired greatly. "We don't set any boundaries for the artists we are interested in working with," she says. "We look at an artist's entire oeuvre of work to get a good sense of the strength of their individual style; we look to work with an eclectic mix of up-and-coming and well-established artists, and everywhere in between."
Of the non-traditional canvas, Perutz says it's not always as simple as printing a picture onto fabric. "We have had a few minor difficulties in terms of realizing an artist’s ideas, but one of the best parts is figuring out dynamic solutions to these challenges," she explains. "Take, for example, Keegan McHargue’s scarf. It was originally a rectangular painting that Keegan added two vertical borders to, making it into a new and unique work that then became a carré (square). I'm actually thrilled by the idea of alternative methodology, and I am branching out into photography and mixed media approaches to the scarf."
Perutz confirms that one artist already on board for next season is Peter Halley, while others will be made official very soon. And, for those needing ideas on how to style an artist-made scarf, Perutz has unlimited suggestions: "I like it as a bandana, a headwrap, rolled and tied into a simple loop around the neck, as a top that shows a bare back, as a belt, as a compliment to an outfit tied onto a purse, as a sarong, as a shawl—I could go on!"
While the Jonas Wood print has already sold out, the other 90x90cm scarves retail for $200. The F/W 2014 collection will be released in October/November on a slightly larger scale: 130x130cm. Visit Massif Central online for more information on the project as a whole.
Lookbook images courtesy of Nina Hartmann, all others courtesy of Massif Central