My artistic journey began in fashion illustration and was heavily influenced by the extravagance of the Rocco era iconized by Marie Antoinette. Since then, my paintings have continued to draw from the romanticism of 18th century Parisian fashion. And so it is little wonder that my Pinterest board and Instagram feed follow other artists who share a similar affinity for French flair. One fashion designer stands out above the rest: Susan Lafica of FIORI Couture.
About FIORI Couture
FIORI Couture is famous for birdcage handbags and haute couture metal corsets heavily embellished with hand-crafted roses and created with elements salvaged from Italian and French antiquity. As a fashion designer and stylist, FIORI Couture is truly unique and absolutely awe-inspiring.
Paintings Inspired by Aphrodite's Garden Corsets
My Debi Coules original paintings titled "FIOIR I" and "FIORI II" are directly inspired by the "Aphrodite's Garden Corset" and the "My Beloved Valentine Corset". The metal mesh corsets are embellished with hand-sculpted cotton roses and lush moss cascading down the bust. The corsets stretches outward with twisting, rose branches that house nesting birds and fluttering butterflies. These corsets are truly an incredible fusion of style; and my paintings sought to capture the same. Though modern in subject matter, they are able to retain their romantic and feminine essence.
French Fashionistas with FIORI Handbags
I often feel the desire to return to my first-love of fashion illustration. My three part, contemporary watercolor series fullfilled that creative desire. I wanted the series to have that haute couture, Parisian feel. And so naturally I looked to FIORI Couture for inspiration. The result were sleek, minimalist, black & white lines accented with pink stokes. The models in their French fashion gown carrie birdcage handbags by FIORI Couture.
Vintage Anne Klein Shoes with Rose Embellishments
Susan Lafica and I have been in correspondence for many years. During 2020, she reached out to various artist to create collaborative pieces. Drawing from her extensive private wardrobe, she sent me a pair of Vintage Anne Klein shoes. I hand-painted the black leather with iconic "Debi Coules" roses. The result is a beautiful fashion statement that can be worn or simply used as home decor.
The Garden Dress Collaboration
"The Sicily Dress" is the FIORI Couture dream dress. It is a modernized version of the prairie silhouette, and is versatile enough to be provincial, formal, or even steam punk. But as a stylist, Susan Lafica wanted to create a Limited Edition Sicily Dress that was truly romantic and feminine. She contacted about hand painting two white dresses. One would feature a pink rose garland, the other vintage-blue hydrangeas.
The designs began as a sketch. I needed to find a way for the flowers to organically flow with the design of the dress, to enhance the beauty of the garment and not detract from it. I created an asymmetrical design. I paint the flowers lightly on the top of the bust to draw color up to the neckline, but the floral garland became progressively heavier as it gently flowed down one side of the dress in a soft serpentine pattern.
Working on these dresses was an absolute dream. And it is always a pleasure to collaborate with the talented and ever-gracious Susan Lafica.