Style Court

Textiles, Art History, Gardens, and a Little Mental Traveling with Courtney Barnes 2006-2016


Worlds of Their Own Invention

[Images one through three are older RL screengrabs from my personal inspiration file.]

Are you watching the new season of Upstairs Downstairs on Masterpiece? If so, then you've probably noticed the beautiful Ralph Lauren spots (shot by Carter Berg) at the beginning and end of each Sunday night episode. RL seems to be a natural fit as corporate sponsor for Masterpiece. Not just because aspects of the designer's aesthetic are aligned with the look of certain British period dramas. No, he's also something of a storyteller himself; for decades now, through his collections (both fashion and home) and ad campaigns, he has created his own mini narratives.

[To me, this small detail from Ralph Lauren's fall campaign video speaks 
VP Daniela Kamiliotis and her signature red wax seals.]

[The two images above and all that follow, unless credited otherwise, 
©Daniela Kamiliotis and posted here courtesy of the artist.]

Daniela Kamiliotis -- Ralph's Vice-President of Design for the Women’s Collection, in-house artist and resident muse -- literally inhabits worlds of her own invention. In a sense, she's always done this: "When I was 15, I painted all my furniture and walls in my Bucharest apartment, with the encouragement of my parents and grandmother," she told me. Typically ethereal, her very personal spaces are complete with her own cast of characters.

[She added the boats and script to this 1930s vest. It was plain white when she first found it.]

[Flower and script.]

Weeks ago, she sent me some photos of more recent personal projects.

[A sample of Daniela's ceramics.]

[Daniela, always drawing and calligraphing, once created a label for her friend and former coworker Gwen Whiting, co-founder, along with Lindsey J. Boyd, of The Laundress; this fall they did some artistic brainstorming in Daniela's studio for a future product line.]

Initially, I thought Bloomsbury. Like artists Vanessa Bell and Duncan Grant, Daniela's brush and pen still touch pretty much everything she comes in contact with: the plates she and her husband use daily (she has her own kiln), their walls, textiles, furniture, clothes.

[Vanessa Bell, painted door in study of River House, 1919, 
as illustrated in Vogue early November 1924. From Bloomsbury Rooms.]

[Vanessa Bell and Duncan Grant, decorated room for Mary and St John Hutchinson at 3 Albert Gate, London, 1926, 
as illustrated in Vogue late August 1926; from Bloomsbury Rooms.]

But Daniela said it's Jean Cocteau's work that inspires her. After all, she began in the theater and was a costume designer before joining the Ralph Lauren team, first in the home division and later in women's. "I have always admired Cocteau as an artist. As I do, he embellished his walls -- the rooms he lived in. Because of his sense of humor and whimsy, I feel very close to him. I even painted our terrace [out in Connecticut] with his characters," she shared via email.

[Daniela in her studio. Photo courtesy Carter Berg , the man who also happens to be in the painting.]

Those other 20th century giants Matisse and Picasso inspire her too.

[Helene Adant, Matisse in his Vence studio with moucharabiehs, 1940s, Matisse, His Art and His Textiles.]

[Damian Elwes, Picasso's Villa La Californie I & II, 2006, oil on canvas, 66 x 66 inches (each).]

Since she and her husband like to entertain (real celebrations with lots of dancing in Daniela's Connecticut garden), she couldn't resist painting Matisse's Dance (1) on an exterior wall where it serves as a backdrop for the festivities.

Also a precursor to a big celebration was her homage to Picasso.

She focused on his pieces that relate to women and dreams, as well as the artist's studio, because these themes run through her own work.

Understanding that her studio outside the city is such a personal retreat, I asked Daniela how she separates the art she does just for herself from her work in fashion. Or if she even tries to.

[©A Perfectly Kept House is the Sign of A Misspent Life by Mary Randolph Carter, Rizzoli New York, 2010.] 

"I do try to keep my work in the studio separate. Although, so many ideas come from that place, where I am with my thoughts alone. My job [at Ralph Lauren] is to give inspiration -- use all my skills as a painter, designer and artist. There is no way not to give a big chunk of my soul there. My dilemma is what part is for me and what part is the one I choose to give."

Mary Laura Philpott, an extremely bright and gifted friend, clued me in to the "world of our own invention" line in Bright Star. I was too busy soaking up Jane Campion's general aesthetic and details like Susan Cowie's embroidery.  

Update 6.16.13
Daniela has a new site. Click here to explore her world.


Janet said...

I haven't started watching the new season of Upstairs Downstairs (though I did re-watch the first season a couple weeks ago)... I am now eager to see not only the show, but the RL promo! Daniela's work is so whimsical. I am glad you tuned me into it :).

Deborah said...

Daniela's passion and talent which is evident in everything she does is truly inspirational. She has made me want to paint again.

Anonymous said...

C--Beautiful beautiful story on my friend Daniela!
FYI--the photographs in the Ralph Lauren commercial on Upstairs, Downstairs were taken by son Carter Berg for the RL Fall Collection campaign. That is also Daneila's portrait of him in the image of her in her studio!
Imperfectly yours,
Mary Randolph Carter

Style Court said...

Carter -- thanks so much. I'm going to go back and mention Carter B. at the beginning of the post. (I remember the portrait -- love how it kind of brings everything full circle :)

-- Courtney

Ms. Ainee C. Beland said...

Creativity does take courage despite adversity! It is all lovely and inspirational to me. Thank you!