Text by Alec Coiro
Video by Abigail Starr
Tess Giberson’s Fall 2015 collection surely has the most prescient title for New York’s currently ice-encrusted February. However, Tess’s “Arctic” refers not just to the bold severity of the frozen tundra; it also alludes to the brave, resourceful men and women who inhabit the Arctic. According to Tess, she wanted to tap into the “passion and the toughness” that these people must possess to endure living under frozen conditions. The collection simultaneously expresses passion of struggle and the freedom gained through it, the freedom of living in the great, empty solitude of the arctic. And, indeed, “Arctic” achieves a stark, and considered elegance.
For her Fall 2015 collection, Tess created a study in contrasts, some immediately apparent like the strong dichotomy between black and white. Other contrasts are more subtle, which gives the collection its depth. There is the contrast between toughness and femininity that comes to a resolve in pieces like the beautiful silver fur vest and the parkas. There is also the contrast between the utilitarian and the expressive that is made most apparent in Tess’s play with the motif of long underwear, which retains it’s utilitarian warmth, but also gains a beauty and lacey delicacy.
Considering Petrova Giberson’s companion video that takes The White Mountains as its subject, one is reminded of Tess’s New Hampshire upbringing. And indeed there is an element of the personal in this collection which comes across most clearly in its impulse toward self expression. As the styling of the installation highlights, Tess has found within the seasonal necessity of layering up an unexpected outlet for the expression.
The installation coming in the grey mid-winter is a refreshing reminder that beauty can persists under any conditions.