The Art of Craftsmanship Revisited

LVMH and Parsons Join Forces to Celebrate New York's Fine Artisanry

Blink and it's time to update software on your laptop, or replace an outmoded mobile phone. Such breakneck pursuit of technological innovation has a plus side, though: an increased reverence for heritage and traditions. At Swayspace Letterpress Printing in New York, it takes hours to perfect a single print. David Munro, horologist at the Arcadian Clock Co. in New Jersey, might spend years developing an original precision regulator for one of his clocks. To promote and disseminate the ethos and techniques of such artisans, luxury group LVMH Möet Hennessy Louis Vuitton teamed up with Parsons The New School for Design to pair 125 students (in groups of five) with 23 local artisans for a collaborative contest entitled The Art of Craftsmanship Revisited: New York. The teams spent several months laboring with these master craftsmen—including Swayspace and Munro as well as calligrapher Bernard Maisner, framer Eli Wilner and papermaker Dieu Donné—to create original garments and short films inspired by their mentor’s work. The outcomes of these partnerships—first previewed at New York Fashion Week in February—go on show this weekend on the restored Governors Island in New York Harbor. Ahead of the exhibition, NOWNESS sent photographer and ex-model Elle Muliarchyk to photograph the students in preparation. Here she recounts her memories of the day: 

“The students dressed their mannequins on Monday and, on Wednesday, joined their artisan mentors at the Tribeca cinema to watch a documentary about the project. Watching the film, I fell in love with the master calligrapher Bernard Maisner. He immediately reminded me of a 13th-century scholar—maybe Thomas Aquinas. From the cinema we took the ferry to Governors Island. The whole island has been completely transformed from an uninhabited jungle into a picture-perfect playground for adults. It was such a Fellini-esque scene. Guests dispersed into the green manicured hills of the island, back-lit by a setting sun. Nearby the three historic houses in Nolan Park hosted the student’s ensembles and mini-workshops of the traditional crafts they represented. You could watch a Fendi bag being made right in front of you, and Bernard was signing little notes for the guests.”
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