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Image / Editorial

Roland Mouret: Ireland’s RHA’s new exhibition sees designer venture outside of fashion for the first time

by Erin Lindsay
16th Nov 2019

Repro Free: 15/11/2019 Picture are world renowned fashion designer, Roland Mouret, and the acclaimed Irish-based visual artist, Dragana Juriši?, presenting their immersive installation as part of the first RHA X at the Royal Hibernian Academy. The first RHA X launches today, Friday, 15th November, where it will be animated personally by the artists at a gala fundraising event, visit www.rhagallery.ie/events/RHAX for more information. Picture Andres Poveda

The RHA X Roland Mouret x Dragana Jurišic is the first time that Roland Mouret has ventured outside of fashion to be creative. Our deputy digital editor got a peek of the exhibition

“Step forward”.

A very stern-looking woman stares me up and down as I dither about where to stand. “Should I come in or…?”

She gives me a look that would wither the best mood, and repeats herself. Oh, so it’s that kind of exhibition.

I won’t give too much away, but this feeling of discomfort and nervousness persists throughout the entirety of the RHA’s new exhibition – RHA X Roland Mouret x Dragana Juriši?. I learn later that that’s how I’m supposed to feel. Myself and a few other journalists are here to get a sneak peek of the project before it opens to the general public for this weekend only, and to later interview Mouret and Jurišic themselves.

It totally disarms me, then, when walking through the exhibition, I find myself in front a table where they both sit, silently judging me as I walk past. I was already nervous to meet them both, but now I’m really sweating.

Later, when I meet them in person, the reality is that they couldn’t be nicer. Mouret giggles as he points me out: “you couldn’t stop smiling the whole way around!” I laugh back, relieved that the stern persona was just a part of the act.

Creatives and criticism

This project with the RHA is the first time that famed fashion designer Roland Mouret has done any artistic venture outside of fashion. He teamed up with Irish-based visual designer Dragana Jurisic about six months ago to create this exclusive exhibition. Why now? Why this?

“The reality is that I felt my time as a designer was coming to a close, and I had nothing new to say in fashion”, Mouret explains. “But I am a creative, that isn’t something I can change. And I was very inspired by what is happening in the world today – climate change, political upheaval – and I wanted to create something to reflect that”.

And so the exhibition itself. What’s it all about? Well, in a nutshell? Social media. Obsession with image. Criticism, both internal and external. Art. Life. All of the above? Mouret and Juriši? explain that the main focus behind the project was their own lives as artists. “As a photographer or designer, your life is putting your own work out there to be critiqued, and it’s very vulnerable and unnerving” says Jurišic. “So in this, we want to disarm the viewer from the beginning and give them that same feeling of being judged, and having nothing to hide behind”.

I could imagine that Jurišic would have been nervous to collaborate with a figure such as Mouret, who shot to international acclaim in 2005 with his cult Galaxy Dress, which, to any socialite of the moment, was required apparel. She is certainly the more quiet of the two as we chat, content to let the ebullient Mouret do most of the talking. But he was as nervous as her.

“We were both so nervous to work with eachother, as it was completely new and different for both of us!” he laughs. “I looked at her work on the way to meet her in London, and couldn’t wrap my head around it”.

“And I couldn’t imagine myself doing any of his” she said, smiling. “But myself and Roland are creatives, even though, given our backgrounds, we shouldn’t be,” she explains.

And she’s right. Jurišic herself is a native of Croatia, born there when it was Yugoslavia. She grew up during the war, and had to abandon her family home when it was burned down in 1991. “With that type of life, it was very unlikely for me to become an artist. Most people I deal with are very far removed from that”.

Mouret himself was born in Lourdes in France, and chats fondly about how his strong French accent caused a stir in the refined Parisian fashion scene of the time. Both artists’ fondness and respect for eachother is palpable – as Mouret said, “the RHA gave us the space to find our common interest and common creativity, and we’re so happy and thankful to them”.

What’s next?

So what’s next for the pair? Mouret tells us of grand plans for sustainable homewares, for charity work, for exploring his inner artist even more. His excitement is contagious, and the room is already looking forward to what great projects will come to fruition. When I turn to Jurišic, she simply smiles. “I have a show coming up in London this weekend”, she says. “And then we’ll see how it goes”.

RHA X: Roland Mouret x Dragana Jurišic shows in the RHA until tomorrow

Featured image: Andres Poveda

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