Levoy Exil Collaboration

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This season we collaborated with Haitian artist Levoy Exil.

Levoy is a celebrated Haitian artist known for his pivotal role in the Saint Soleil art movement. Beginning his artistic journey in 1972, he joined the Saint Soleil workshops initiated by the renowned artist Tiga in 1973. This groundbreaking experiment empowered mountain-dwelling peasants with no prior exposure to art to explore spirituality and creativity, garnering international attention.

In 1975, the influential French novelist and art historian André Malraux visited Saint Soleil, recognizing the artists as conduits for spiritual expression. He dedicated a chapter in his final book, “L’Intemporel,” to the Saint Soleil movement, featuring Levoy Exil’s artwork on the cover. Exil actively participated in Saint Soleil exhibits, collaborated on a homage to Malraux, and showcased his work at the World Theater Festival in Nancy, France in 1977. Exil’s artistic career transcended borders, captivating audiences worldwide.

His art delves deep into Haitian heritage and spirituality, drawing inspiration from Voodoo spirits and vivid dreams. Using Pointillism, he created intricate compositions pulsating with images of Voodoo Loas, celestial bodies, and avian creatures, all infused with rhythmic spirituality. Each brushstroke weaves a narrative of eyes, limbs, hair, and serpentine forms, evoking mystical, abstract energy.

We used Levoy Exil's painting as an inspiration for the macrame fabric. Everything Levoy paints has spiritual meaning for him in the voodoo tradition, which we were careful to maintain. He is known for using patchworks of bright colors and graphic patterns as the foundation of his paintings. For this collection, we translated them into a patchwork of textures, all in optic white.

The fabric came to life in the hands of masterful Bolivian artisans. They began by creating the outline of the spirits with hand crochet, then each shape was filled in with a variety of macrame and irregular woven stitches, woven by hand using a needle.

Each stitch, knot and weave was painstakingly hand crafted, taking 31 artisans over 5,000 hours to complete the group. The long poncho alone took 1,500 hours.

Levoy Exil Gabriela Hearst

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