Ambera Wellmann’s Paintings Added Flair to Mugler’s Paris Fashion Week Show

Paintings by star artist Ambera Wellmann conquered the catwalk this past weekend. Her rich, uncanny compositions appeared on four looks in Thierry Mugler’s knockout Fall/Winter 2024 presentation at Paris Fashion Week. Creative director Casey Cadwallader’s latest collection imbues the house’s celebrated strong silhouettes with unprecedented dimension, texture, and—thanks to Wellmann—color and pattern.

Wellmann’s sensual “painterly catachresis” (catachresis is defined as the incorrect use of a word) complements Mugler’s dark allure. As legendary muses like Natasha Poly and Joan Smalls stormed the dark and chilly school gymnasium where the show took place, Dutch model Yasmin Wijnaldum headed down the runway in a strapless dress printed with the unmistakable apples of Wellmann’s painting To a Girl in a Garden (2023).

Yasmin Wijnaldum walking the Mugler Fall/Winter 2024 runway. Photo: Daniele Oberrauch / Gorunway.com.

Ahead of her 2021 Art Basel Miami Beach booth with Company, Wellmann told Coco Romack that she grew up without plumbing in a “dreary log cabin in the middle of the woods” in Novia Scotia, Canada. She liked art as a kid, but her primary school cut its art programs. The fledgling talent moved to Halifax in her early twenties to manage a record store, and began her BFA at the Nova Scotia College of Art & Design soon after. “I was meeting other kids who were misfits like me for the first time,” she recounted.

While earning an MFA at Ontario’s University of Guelph, she won a prize that allowed her to live for a year in Europe. She chose Berlin for its proximity to the porcelain capital of Meissen. Wellmann moved to Mexico City next, and shed her floral motifs for a taut balance of dark and light evoking El Greco and Francisco Goya. She anchored the New Museum’s 2021 Triennial and made more headlines earlier this year as the second artist that international megagallery Hauser and Wirth picked up as part of its new co-representation program.

Ambera Wellmann. Photo: Christian Defonte. Courtesy of the artist and Company Gallery, New York

Early on, the artist built her following with playful Instagram posts where, for instance, a toilet sported a toupee. Although she’s since scrubbed such silliness from her feed, social media also gave rise to her runway debut: that’s where Cadwallader encountered her work.

“I literally saw this painting and I was like, ‘Oh my God, it’s so sexy and it’s so sinister—just like this collection,’” he told Fashionista. “I DMed her and she was like, ‘This is the best text I’ve ever gotten. Let’s do this.’ We made them in all these beautiful velvets and denim with gloss… It was an honor to be able to work with such beautiful images.”

Ambera Wellmann, To a Girl in a Garden (2023). Courtesy of the artist and Company Gallery, New York

While the artist hasn’t commented on the process of getting her work on Cadwallader’s clothes, it appears she reproduced existing paintings rather than making new ones. In addition to Wijnaldum’s look, Chinese model Lina Zhang strutted about in a sleek black ensemble accented by shimmering swaths of warped faces reminiscent of Wellmann’s Impossession (2022).

Lina Zhang walking the Mugler Fall/Winter 2024 runway. Photo: Daniele Oberrauch / Gorunway.com.

“Everything is cut with this very insane logic,” Cadwallader said of the collection. “At the same time it creates these flyaways and volumes and dynamism.” He could describe Wellmann’s work in much the same way.

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