Iggy & Lou Lou – inspired by Giselle

25 February 2015 | By Rose Mulready

It’s a proud day for The Australian Ballet! After years of admiring the Melbourne-based artisan label Iggy & Lou Lou, we’re delighted to unveil our collaboration with them, inspired by our upcoming ballet Giselle. Using motifs drawn from the ballet – lilies, hearts, the Romantic ballerina – they’ve created a capsule collection that evokes the unearthly beauty and poignant tenderness of this immortal work.

We loved visiting artist and designer Irene Grishin Selzer and her partner Peter Selzer in their bright, vine-twined studio to find out more about the meticulous artisan processes they use to produce these pieces.

The Giselle-inspired collection in the making. Photography Thomas Dallas Watson

 

Irene has a Masters in Ceramics and started her career as a visual artist. While she was at university she worked part-time at Sotheby’s and became fascinated by old porcelain jewellery. “It started me thinking about jewellery as a more intimate art form.” At around the same time, a friend said to Irene, “I wish I could wear your work,” and the idea of making jewellery began to percolate in earnest. Some 20 years later, Irene and her partner Peter – who handles the business side of things and also applies the glazes to the pieces – have a thriving label collected by Mike Patton and worn by the likes of Emily Blunt and Nicole Ritchie, and collaborations with Karen Walker and T2 under their belt.

Irene at work. Photography Thomas Dallas Watson

Iggy & Lou Lou’s creations often juxtapose the delicacy and endurance of porcelain – tried in the furnace, and a survivor of fashion’s tides – with tongue-in-cheek, fanciful elements like skulls, brontosauruses, comets and polar bears. Each piece is made by hand in the couple’s home studio. Irene employs a blend of traditional and contemporary methods, using a mix of quartz and porcelain for warmer, creamier tones. She rolls out the clay and imprints it with patterns; to create the floral patterns that appear on many of the pieces, she uses collages of real flowers and leaves, found objects like metal picture frames, and, most charmingly, an old perfume bottle that belonged to her Russian grandmother.

Photography Thomas Dallas Watson

After the clay is printed, Irene cuts the pieces out and lets them dry, then paints them with a black wash and then rubs it back. The piece is then ready for its first or “greenware” firing. The pieces are fired up to four times, resting in between for up to a day.

The black wash is applied. Photography Thomas Dallas Watson

So who is this Iggy, this Lou Lou? The label is named after two ceramic figurines that Irene was given as a child. She named one after herself (Iggy, taken from her initals, was a childhood nickname) and one Lou Lou, and made up all manner of adventures for them. They haven’t survived into her adult life, but they ride on in the label’s name.

The Giselle-inspired collection in the making. Photography Thomas Dallas Watson

The collaboration with The Australian Ballet has Irene reminiscing about her ballet days. She took classes until she was 16; as she was tall, her ballet school had to build her a special barre high on the wall when she graduated to pointe shoes.

We can’t help feeling kind of glad she quit ballet and became an artist. And we can’t wait to wear these beguiling pieces to opening night of Giselle.

Check out the collection
Get your Giselle tickets