16th July 2022

Modern Colour

Milton Avery
Described as ‘a luminary outside the mainstream,’ Milton Avery is not a name associated with London tailoring very often. But the North American abstract painter was an essential inspiration for the Spring / Summer 22 Timothy Everest ready-to-wear collection. The in-house design team took cues from his pioneering use of colour and shapes, glowing elegance so easy on the eye, you’d think you were dreaming. His muted yet mellifluous mid-century masterpieces share an aesthetic sensibility with much of the off-the-peg creations at Redchurch Street, a harmony of hues and patterns.
Milton Avery is considered one of North America’s greatest 20th-century colourists.

Avery’s legacy is now one of absolute reverence, experimenting with pre-conceived ideas of technique and form, influencing many names of American modern art, such as Mark Rothko, Barnett Newman, Robert Rauschenberg and even Bob Dylan. The so-called American Matisse, Avery’s bold use of colour in his pared-back landscapes, still life and figure paintings have a luminous style with a satisfying glow to every composition. Much of his work depicted daily life and his travels through New England and beyond. And as London’s first ever large-scale exhibition of his work opens at the Royal Academy of Arts this week, we thought we’d take a moment to celebrate some of his paintings alongside some key pieces from this season’s collection.

Boathouse by the Sea, 1959

Texture and Colour

When you look at an Avery painting a sense of calm is often inferred upon you. His style does not scream with emotion or action, instead the viewer has to look and enjoy the simple construction of his imagery. Indeed there are things happening, and mood and atmosphere is created with deft application of colour, sometimes in playful, off-kilter ways.

‘Nature is my springboard. From her I get my initial impetus… the visible drama of mountains, trees, and bleached fields with the fantasy of wind blowing and changing colours and forms.’

Long Sleeve Open Collar Polos

The simple silhouette of the Long Sleeve Polo is a perfect example of how the Timothy Everest design team looked to evoke Avery. Taking a mid-century style pattern, with a beautiful pure cotton knitted fabric in soft, glowing colours that are naturally easy on the eye. Versatile enough for everyday use at work or out in the wild, the shirts accommodate a number of outfits across the seasons, perfect for layering in the cooler months. Like viewing an Avery work, the shirt enhances daily life, beautiful to feel and wear, and imparts a sense of calm in Atlantic Blue, Fern or Navy colour-ways.

Natural Washed Linen Work Jacket

Like a freshly stretched canvas, the Natural Washed Linen Work Jacket’s cloth is milled in Ireland and is un-dyed but washed, tumbled and treated for a beautiful worn-in finish and handle. Durable and lightweight, the jacket’s simple pointed collar, horn buttons and elegant, easy fit, has a very natural and pared-back aesthetic, much like the art of Milton Avery. Treat this jacket as your own canvas, harmonising wonderfully with a pop of colour underneath.

Oxford Cotton Redchurch

Named after the street where we lay our east-London scene, the Redchurch is cut from Oxford cotton, a weave that is breathable, hard-wearing and beautiful on the skin. This fabric will improve with wearing and washing and comes in tranquil summer shades of mango, mint, sky blue and lemon. Each of these colours could easily find themselves amongst Avery’s brush strokes…

Beach Blankets, 1960

“I try to construct a picture in which shapes, spaces, colours, form a set of unique relationships, independent of any subject matter.”

The balance and poetry of Avery’s work is something that continues to inspire us and when we think about the clothes we design and wear, it’s with that harmonious spirit of form and colour, keeping it simple and always striving to look and feel with the beauty of an artistic vision.

Milton Avery, American Colourist opens at the Royal Academy of Arts on Friday 15 July and runs until October.

Seaside (Beach Scene), 1945