Milan Design Week 2023: Tod’s unveils 'The Art of Craftsmanship' helmed by Tim Walker
Leave it to Tod’s to make an artisanal yet surrealist contribution to Milan Design Week 2023, with a beautifully zany interpretation of the brand’s codes and DNA by Tim Walker.
On Wednesday, Tod’s unveiled the British photographer’s vision of the storied marque in a project entitled 'The Art of Craftsmanship' where Walker blended its iconic products such as Di Bag, Ballerina Bubble and Gommino with fantastical proportions and madcap characters.
Walker’s initial sketches set the scene - drawings of men composed of real-sized Tod’s shoe boxes lying on trolleys or figures wrapped in humungous tape measures. One great sketch of an installation in the house’s signature mustard orange becomes a room corner finished with huge shoe studs, and dotted with holes. Out of which peek models and gloved hands bearing handbags.
Rather lovingly, in his color photography Walker gives Tod’s favorite raw materials and treasured tools a phantastic spin. Grown-ups become child-like figures riding giant brushes; while handsome models suddenly leap like warriors, their javelins of choice are two-meter-long sewing needles. Dreamlike also the peekaboo young lady dressed in a flared dress that is instead a massive spool of thread.
"Italian lifestyle and exceptional craftsmanship are core values for Tod's and having them interpreted by Tim Walker allows us to convey these values also to the young generations, speaking their language,” said Diego Della Valle, President and CEO of Tod’s Group.
A visit to Tod’s main product studios in Brancadoro, where he met the house’s highly experienced artisans, clearly inspired Walker who magnifies their needles and threads, scissors, tape measures and brushes into humorous and bizarre props. Leather-wrapped tools can either threaten to nip a smirking beauty in a gathered leather lambskin dress, or accessorize a leggy model in a suede apron dress.
"In this increasingly digital world, where so much is being created on an industrial scale by machines, the value of craftsmanship is increasingly precious. The people I met in the company and their experience were the real source of inspiration," said Tim Walker.
Walker also placed a ladder against what looks like a three-meter-tall Di Bag, where a largely hidden smiling Asian lady with gray bob - cult photographer Yoshie - peeps over the top in a marvelously metaphysical mood. Since its launch in the 1990s, the Di Bag has won such celebrity clientele as Princess Diana, Caroline of Monaco, Anne Hathaway and Monica Bellucci.
The same figure is then wrapped up in a massive orange tape-measure with Italian writing. While a mustachioed lothario dressed in a putty gray safari suit by Tod’s creative director Walter Chiapponi looks like he about to be crushed underneath the sole of a blood-orange Gommino with its 133 rubber pebbles. The photo also allows a closer appreciation of the Gommino, which requires 100 steps of construction.
The Art of Craftsmanship is also a series of witty insider visual puns, like the photo of the noted British fashionista Jerry Stafford – an offbeat intellectual who of late could never resist the allure of pink hair dye – shot by Walker sitting impishly on a giant wooden last.
Ultimately, it is the artisans of Brancadoro and their masterly hands that are the protagonists of a cut-and-sew tradition. It may be being lost in the world of fashion, but it remains the basis of Tod’s and the essential component of Italian luxury.
Tod’s The Art of Craftsmanship project was unveiled on various platforms today and launched with an exhibition during Milan Design Week 2023 at the Cavallerizze of the Museo Nazionale della Scienza e della Tecnologia Leonardo Da Vinci on April 19.
The exhibition will be open to the public until Saturday April 22 and will then travel around the world throughout the year with stops in the United States, Asia and China.
Leonardo, who knew a thing or two about proportions, would surely have approved.
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