November 30, 2014

A Technicolour Summer

It's a new dawn, it's a new day and it's a new summer. The page has turned over on the calendar today and we welcome the return of the Australian summer. Here come those days of seemingly never ending sunlight and heat. The sun greets us earlier than ever and come evening, hangs around like the dinner guest who just will not leave. The temperatures soar and we're almost shocked to remember just how oppressive the Australian sun can be. However unbearable the heat may become, it's a magical time of saltwater and sand, cold drinks and browned skin.

Summer to me is all about bright colours and fun. A playful and carefree time. It's gratitude for the city where I live, enjoying the beaches and the coastline from which come the long awaited cool afternoon breezes. Summer Rising, a collaborative project by Perth based international artist Francesca Gnagnarella and local well-loved fashion label Ethel & Leo is a celebration of this hypnotic time of year. A visual feast of colours, prints and textures, the pairing was a perfect match made in technicolour heaven.

I was invited to be amongst the first to view this special showcase last week, held at Francesca's beautiful home which doubles as her creative space and gallery. The collaboration between Francesca and Jess, the talented creator of Ethel & Leo, came about almost as a synchronistic event with neither woman having met or even knowing each other but both wanting to collaborate in some form. As Francesca tells it, "when I first saw Jess' dresses at Telstra Perth Fashion Festival I just fell in love with every single one of the them, and the same happened to Jess when she saw my paintings for the first time; she just died." This mutual respect and appreciation for each other's work led to them exploring the possibility of working together. With their shared love of the Western Australian coast and similar vision, passion and philosophy behind their creative pursuits, Summer Rising was born.

Showcasing Francesca's amazing art, ranging from canvasses that cover the expanse of an entire wall to smaller sized pieces enframed in colourful perspex, with Jess' summer ready designs, I found this to be one collaboration that truly worked in harmony. The collection of Ethel & Leo's dresses made in bright colours and fun prints were perfect for the warmer days ahead, accessorized with show stopper beaded necklaces. The shapes were flattering and easily worn by women of all body shapes and sizes. In particular I loved the trapeze style dress worn by Francesca that evening. What's quite exciting is that Jess is turning one of Francesca's paintings, The Future of Now, into a limited edition silk run which will be used in one of her designs.

For her part in this collaboration, Francesca created a series of bright, coastal and summery works to embrace the feel of the exhibition which would work in synergy with Ethel & Leo's collection. She says that it was a fun experience to work with vibrant colour palettes before she starts work on her next series which will be exhibited in Hong Kong and based on an entirely different subject matter. Francesca draws her inspiration from the landscape and finds a great deal of her inspiration in the colour palette offered up by Mother Nature. This is not at all surprising when seeing a vivid painting of orange, red and pink accented by 23 carat gold leaf which looks like it has been plucked directly from the sky and applied to the canvas.

If you are interested in viewing Francesca's work, please contact her via email on and as always, Ethel & Leo can be purchased via their website and from their Claremont boutique.


  1. Loving all the pics! Photos look brilliant and show off the amazing designs so well.

    1. Francesca and Jess are both so very talented. I hope you get a chance to check out their work!