LESLEY HAMPTON’S Spring Summer 2019 collection, entitled Foyer de la Vice, is visually inspired by the work of Edgar Degas and the ballet, and is conceptually inspired by notions around perfectionism and what is deemed as perfect. The garments’ compositions embody the essence of a negligee and stage wear unified to convey the ballerina’s conflict between her internal self and external pressures. The relentless pursuit of perfectionism often precedes vices, to achieve perfection or to deal with the pressures of the unobtainable.
Edgar Degas’ sculpture “La Petite Danseuse de Quatorze Ans” presents the story of a young girl whose striving for perfection leads to her demise; a beautiful possibility whose inner conflict between societal pressures leaves her lost in her own private thoughts. Monochromatic materials of sultry draped onyx merging with the classic purity of blush rosé describe the juxtaposition between the innocence and beauty of the Paris opera high life and the flirtatious and vicious activities of young ballerinas and “gentlemen” of the bourgeoisie which occurred in the Fourier de la danse at the Paris Opera House.
The title, Foyer de la Vice, is a play on words on the foyer de la danse, the location older men and young ballerinas of the 1800’s Paris Opera House would meet and a place wives and children were not allowed to enter. Foyer de la Vice is the place you go, physically or mentally, that may lead you to your vices. We put what is good about us into our appearance, to represent our best selves. But what if we presented our whole selves? Are your vices defined by you or applied to you by society? What do you wear to go to the Foyer de la Vice?
“Art is not what you see, but what you make others see.“- Edgar Degas