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Pioneering Artist Martha Madigan’s Work Lives On in Lafayette 148’s International Women’s Day Collection

In honor of International Women’s Day and Women’s History Month, luxury fashion label Lafayette 148 is honoring the work and life of the late artist and pioneering photographer Martha Madigan. The brand on Friday is unveiling its limited-edition Martha Madigan x Lafayette 148 capsule collection, and upcoming exclusive exhibition at its Greene Street, SoHo store, featuring Madigan’s works in collaboration with her daughters, Claire Khodara, recording artist, autism advocate and founder of talent agency Starrock Productions, and Grace Fuller Marroquin, landscape designer and former fashion and jewelry editor.

The collaboration began out of mutual admiration for each other’s works — Lafayette 148 creative director Emily Smith cited Fuller Marroquin’s landscape designs while working on Lafayette 148’s recent garden-centric fashions, as well as Madigan’s works and philosophy around nature. Madigan’s experimental approach to photography that used a camera-less photographic process to create botanical forms silhouetted by light coincidentally tied into Lafayette 148’s pre-fall collection, which also dove into the exploration of utilizing natural art techniques of Cyanotype and Eco printing on garments.

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Khodara said that Lafayette 148 was not only one of her and Fuller Marroquin’s favorite brands, but also their mother’s. In addition, both Lafayette 148 and Madigan shared a love of natural fibers, including silk, linen, leather and suede.

Martha Madigan x Lafayette 148
Martha Madigan x Lafayette 148

“It was a harmonious concept that we drove into. For me, the most exciting part was being with Claire and Grace at their mom’s [Philadelphia] studio,” Smith told WWD. “They brought me into this whole world with them. Going down memory lane of their mother, it was so personal and incredible. Her work itself is so particularly beautiful and worked really great for the print that we wanted to do.”

The Martha Madigan x Lafayette 148 capsule collection showcases Madigan’s “Oahu Hanging Ginger” (2010, solar photogram on gold-toned printing-out-paper, 10 x 8 inches) on a linen semi-sheer voile caftan ($798), Italian silk scarf ($298) and Italian silk pajama-inspired set (top, $898; pant, $998). Smith said she rendered the flora-infused print in varying scales across the four easily wearable, versatile silhouettes in order to boldly celebrate the artist’s works, rather than dilute it.

“By marrying Martha’s uniquely soulful approach to capturing the essence of life with the expert hand-skills of Lafayette 148’s Brooklyn-based atelier, the resulting collection is testament to the power of mother nature, and the deeply human values embedded in all artistic endeavors,” the brand said in a statement.

This is Lafayette 148’s first major collaboration with an artist’s estate, and it’s the first time Madigan’s estate has done a collaboration, too.

“We want to do the artist justice. I think all of us are artistic and really have an appreciation for what that means and what that represents. You don’t want to take on something that doesn’t feel natural, in a sense. For me, I took it very seriously to want to make sure that it really captured what their mother stood for and what would make her proud. Having that moment to go [to the studio] and be a part of that really kind of gave us more of an essence of how to sort of bring her into this more. It felt very natural and it made me so happy that Claire and Grace told me that she would’ve loved that print specifically,” Smith said.

Martha Madigan x Lafayette 148
Martha Madigan x Lafayette 148

“It’s so nice to hear Emily talk about how she was excited by mom’s work, but also because I think the reason why this collaboration worked so fluidly was because there was such deep respect on both sides. Nothing felt forced. It was so natural and wonderfully respectful for all sides of this,” Fuller Marroquin said. “We believe that my mom, in another consciousness, was also supporting us,” Khodara echoed.

Fuller Marroquin said the collaboration continued to flourish due to the variety of artist mediums — Smith, with an understanding of fabric, patterns and decision making behind tonality of fabric, as well as the Madigans’ perspective.

“The artist’s voice wasn’t here, but it’s still permeated because we were the lens for that — I think we were sort of collectively all the lens for that. There’s an interesting way in which you can frame somebody else’s work and that was very important coming from those different perspectives,” Fuller Marroquin said.

Martha Madigan x Lafayette 148
Martha Madigan x Lafayette 148

The Martha Madigan x Lafayette 148 capsule collection is available to purchase at the brand’s Greene Street, Madison Avenue and King of Prussia boutiques, as well as online. Twenty percent of the capsule collection’s sales will be donated to the Martha Madigan Foundation, which provides funds for art education.

“Our mom was a professor for over 40 years at Temple University. Giving back and arts education was really her life above and beyond her processes as an artist,” Khodara said.

In addition to the capsule collection, from March 13 to April 13, the Lafayette 148 Greene Street flagship will exhibit a curation of 22 of Madigan’s solar photogram works from 2004 to 2011.

“The art hanging on the wall and the collection next to each other will feel like a very cohesive world,” Fuller Marroquin said.

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