Paolo Sebastian stuns with commission design for opening of Queer art exhibition

Commissioned by American Express, Paolo Sebastian has dressed two members of Aussie band Cub Sport for the opening of a new NGV exhibition.

Image: Paolo Sebastian

Adelaide-born fashion house, Paolo Sebastian, has stunned once again with its iconic whimsical, elegant and intricate designs, this time creating bespoke pieces for a unique and meaningful moment in fashion history.

Ostrich feathers woven between sheets of silver embroidery adorned a sweeping opera coat while a cashmere jacket donned with perfectly placed matelassé thread and beads stood beside it, draped elegantly over two members of the Australian musical quartet, Cub Sport.

The pair were attending the opening night of the National Gallery of Victoria’s new exhibition, QUEER: Stories from the NGV collection. A display that embraces queerness as it is understood, experienced and expressed in art, both now and throughout history.

Designer and Creative Director, Paul Vasileff, was commissioned by American Express, long-standing allies to the LGBTQI+ community, to create the couture for the evening with his inspiration drawing from the romanticism of Shakespearean lovers, Romeo and Juliette.

However, Paul took a more tailored approach to his designs focusing on the individuals he was dressing rather than the gender-oriented roles dictated by the love story. Lovers themselves, Sam Netterfield and Tim Nelson of Cub Sport carried the designs to life at the showing with the pair expressing their sentiment to be a part of such a special moment.

“We are deeply moved and inspired by the Queer exhibition and its goal to explore the NGV Collection through a queer lens,” says Paul.

“The concept of star-crossed lovers has long been tied to heteronormativity. We wanted to dissolve this ideology and celebrate the lovers whose stories have too often gone untold or unaccepted.

“What was also interesting about these plays back then was that even the female characters were played by men. We liked the idea of taking these medieval renaissance-inspired outfits and putting the Paolo Sebastian lens on it.”

After years of hiding their relationship and feeling the shame that often surrounds same-sex couples, Sam and Tim were over-joyed with emotion that they could be part of such a special moment. Paul was also extremely humbled to be able to work with the couple.

“It was incredible to collaborate with Tim and Sam on this project and get to know them and
their music,” he says.

“Their story is a perfect example of two paths being destined from a young age and beating the odds to get there.”

Working from his atelier here in Adelaide, Paul and his team created the vision through many a Zoom meeting with the musicians to create pieces that truly articulated their personalities.

The first piece, designed for Netterfield, was a fully embellished wool cashmere coat and beaded French tulle tunic shirt. A statement back detail featured the emblem of a heart, crow and dagger along with the embroidered quote, ‘a rose by any other name’ – a direct nod to the famous Shakespearean play.

Nelson wore a godet shirt dress with flocked hail spot detail, embroidered pants, and a statement Opera coat of silk organza 3D flowers with ostrich feathers and crystal beading. Featured on the shirt dress were more embroidered quotes, this time including standout lyrics from the music of Cub Sport itself. Both looks were completed with custom-made black knee-length boots by Rossi Boots.

Within the exhibition, 400 works of art look at the collection within the NGV with a queer lens from ancient to contemporary art. Rather than a history of queer art, it is a deeper look into art throughout the ages and looking at the queer stories that art can tell.

For more information on the exhibition visit the NGV website or follow Paolo Sebastian on Facebook and Instagram.

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