Artist:Atelier E.B., Beca Lipscombe, Lucy McKenzie
Year: 2020
Keyword:Exhibition Catalogue, Fashion, Reader, Research
Publisher:Lafayette Anticipations—Fondation d’enterprise Galeries Lafayette
Location:London, Paris

Since 2007, the designer Beca Lipscombe and the artist Lucy McKenzie have collaborated under the name Atelier E.B (Edinburgh Bruxelles). With the launch of their first collection, The Inventors of Tradition in 2011, the pair have operated as a fashion label, selling clothing and accessories that make use of the highest standards of manufacturing available in their home country of Scotland. Their brand develops idiosyncratically, facilitated by the networks and opportunities offered by the contemporary art scene in which they show and sell. Despite this association with art, however, their clothes do not look avant-garde in the way that term is generally understood, with unusual or even unwearable designs. Rather, the complex narratives that permeate each collection are expressed in other ways, unburdening the garment of conceptual baggage so that the wearer can use it to tell their own story. Crucially, their clothes are not only beautifully made and eminently practical garments; they are a conceptual tool with which to explore the spaces between art, design, research and exhibition-making.
Their project Atelier E.B: Passer-by examines an essential facet of the fashion industry: the use of mannequins and retail display. Since the surrealists took them up in the early twentieth century, the idealised features and silhouettes of the mannequin have been an enduring motif within fine art. Additionally, the border between commercial display and exhibition-making has also been shown to be debatable. Atelier E.B: Passer-by is a meticulous and idiosyncratic study of the hierarchies which have historically separated the spheres of art and design. In it Lipscombe and McKenzie unpack the disciplines of window dressing, look to radical thinkers and makers who dissolved the dividing line between fine art and commercial display, and piece together a compelling narrative that encompasses ethnography, statuary, dolls, the world fairs and our digital future.