Clarice II

Clarice II

Portuguese designer Joao Vaz’s newest collection, Clarice II, is a lot of things.  It’s the exploration of a fictional, claustrophobic character facing the outside world for the first time.  It’s a thick-lashed tribute to 1940’s Hollywood.  It’s an experiment of technique and materials.  But at its most fundamental, this work is the continuation of an idea pushed to its very limits.

Lisbon-born designer Joao Vaz the kind of person who builds his own machines and invents his own techniques in order to realise a collection.  His 2015 collection, Clarice I, was the result of tension setting cubic zirconia in glowing, laser-cut acrylic – a technique previously only used with metals and precious gems thought capable of withholding its pressure.

Using only black acrylic and cubic zirconia this time, Joao’s newest collection is an extension of this idea - and unlike anything else in the country right now. 

Drawing on Nicolas Winding Refn’s Drive for aesthetic inspiration, Clarice II is flushed with decorative Eastern influences, reinterpretations of standards normally made in precious metal, and deceptively simple organic shapes. 

But the simplicity is definitely only skin deep.  This time around, Joao was faced with countless technical difficulties, which in some instances saw him manually drilling countless tiny bases for cubc zirconias to rest upon in order to bring a particular design to life.

“I just can never stop myself from doing something that I haven't quite done before, which to some extent is good but in practical terms is a pain because every time you try something new there's always just so many uncertainties and learning curves associated with the new processes,” he explains.

Joao believes that because his new collection is more focused around aesthetics, it’s more relaxed and freer than the technique-driven Clarice I.

“I would say that the biggest jump [from Clarice I to Clarice II] was allowing myself to have fun with the narrative behind the character and imagine what she would wear,” explains Joao.

The collection’s lookbook (or photo essay, depending on how you look at it) explores this narrative in glamorous 1940’s Hollywood-inspired black and white.  As Joao puts it:  ‘After living alone for so long, in a one bedroom flat, which was claustrophobic but also safe, [Clarice] decided that it was time to leave the nest and experience the outside world.  But it's important to note that the environment that she decides to explore is human-free.  This is because, as we all know, humans are the most difficult challenge of them all, so she baby stepp-ed herself to human contact.’

It’s a compelling story, and as a new glamorous motif of an existing idea, the work itself is irresistible.

“I think that this is a good imitation of life, when we move to a new chapter in life, we never fully let go of everything that was around us before, who we were,” explains Joao.  “Everyone has luggage of some description, and I suppose in a way this is what Clarice has discovered for herself.”

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Clarice II is available now.