The illustrator and artist Donald Robertson is best known by his playful Instagram moniker @drawbertson, and the quirky illustrations and artwork that feature on this platform are indicative of his fun and whimsical style. According to him, being an artist is like being a farmer. “You grow things from nothing. Seeds of ideas become beautiful flowers. I think of it like that. Then I sell my flowers,” he says.
And having illustrated greats from Anna Wintour to the late Christian Dior, Robertson cheekily describes the fashion world as being full of “chic children” and likens his relationship with them to that of a big brother poking fun at a sibling. Robertson works as a creative director for cosmetic giant Estée Lauder while concurrently pursuing his artistic career, which includes creating original artworks as well as selling his joyful prints on merchandise, so it seems fitting that his most recent collaboration is with a fashion label.
Italian luxury brand Max Mara tapped Robertson for its latest Weekend Max Mara Signature capsule collection called Flutterflies
— bright and exuberant clothing and accessories inspired by his art, his experimentation with Gaffertape and his illustrations. On how the collection came about, Robertson says, “Instagram has made the world very small. We all know one another from there. Then we had a play date in my studio in Santa Monica.... a virtual play date. They were able to see all the fun things I am working on and they noticed my shelves of colourful Gaffertape.” Robertson loves working with the material as it is fast to use, doesn’t smear and shoots well, unlike oil, a medium that he doesn’t enjoy using.
Courtesy of Max Mara
Model Sofia Richie models the Flutterflies collection that featured Robertson’s art and sketches both in colour and graphic black and white.
From there, Robertson created moodboards and sent a pile of butterflies made with Gaffertape to the Weekend Max Mara studio in Reggio Emilia. Robertson said his main job from there was to inspire the designers at Weekend Max Mara, who then used everything he submitted — tape, paintings, scribbles and cut-out flutterflies — in the collection. He described his first ever collaboration with an Italian label as a fun experience making beautiful things. “They were also very good about getting into my head. I handed my secrets over to them and crossed my fingers,” he says
The inclusion of butterflies, which is one of the signatures of Weekend Max Mara, was a happy coincidence, especially considering it is not one of the usual motifs that Robertson works with. “Strangely I never do butterflies. Never. I had just started playing around with the idea of hand-cut butterflies made out of heavy industrial Gaffertape in crazy colours. It’s like I knew they were going to call,” he says.
Courtesy of Max Mara
The striped top and skirt in this collection were both influenced by the gaffertape art that Donald Robertson was creating, while the puffy clutch has been called an emotional support pillow by the latter; Robertson with the butterflies and gaffertape art he created for the collection.
Contrasting black and white with stripes, and prints with vibrant colours, the collection adds a dose of pure optimism into a woman’s wardrobe. “I don’t really do dark. It’s not my thing. I’m more a bright and happy type. Coming out of a cocoon has become more than just a fun theme. We are all dying to spread our quarantined wings. [The] more colourful the better,” says Robertson, who baulks at the idea of pulling back when designing prints for this collection. “Does anyone really need more black clothes right now? We are celebrating 2020 being over! Cue fireworks,” he says.
The collection, as modelled by It girl Sofia Richie — who Robertson was inspired by when creating — includes an easy-to-wear wardrobe of sundresses with clean lines, light overcoats, flowy skirts, sleek trousers, as well as vibrant sneakers and oversized clutch bags. Robertson’s personal favourite pieces are the Pasticcino Bags as they are “soft pillows — like emotional support purses” and the striped rainbow pants. Call it therapy via fashion, but the collection was specifically created for someone who loves colours and wanted a break from playing it safe. “I believe happiness i a decision you make when you wake up. Rainbow stripe jeans can help if you are having a tough day,” he says.
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