A self-taught artist born in 1993 in Cape Town, South Africa, Lea Colombo is a creative nomad. Her commercial work as a photographer and director has cemented her place among the most influential global fashion names, while her profile as a fine artist rapidly gains clout. Recognized for her bold and saturated style, Colombo examines the values and connections between color, light and emotion. Her art reflects her personality – she is unafraid to push boundaries.
Colombo’s practice is spontaneous and intuitive, unguarded and intimate. Her artworks reflect how she views both herself and the world. She channels her mediums to explore individuation and to connect with her surroundings. Colombo combines unconventional approaches to create balance – balance that is expressed through the masculine and feminine, shadow and light, color and desaturated, yin and yang.
As a multidisciplinary artist, Colombo works with a range of mediums such as print, photography, painting, and sculpture. Her highly recognizable dark room prints express fluidity and intimacy that engage the viewer on a deeply personal plane. Her exploration of color through diverse mediums reveals the multiplicity of our connections to a higher consciousness. In 2021, Colombo presented her inaugural and independently produced solo show titled ‘Colours of My Body.’ The exhibition was simultaneously presented in both Cape Town and Los Angeles, creating a dialogue between two locations. Parsing the material and the immaterial, it was the contemporary search for meaning, escape and self-discovery that became the lynchpin of ‘Colours Of My Body.’ This introspective study of the sacred feminine called upon centuries of artistic and spiritual practice, re-centering the artist’s physical body as the subject of a holistic master work. The monumental body of work included more than 44 original dark room prints, digital images, bronze and stone sculptures, lighting, and installation art. Through the collection Colombo held a mirror to presence.
From her fine art Colombo has produced capsule clothing collections with brands such as COS, Palm Angels & Aritzia. Her commercial work has been featured in many leading fashion and art publications such as Vogue, Dazed, i-D, Self Service and M Le magazine du Monde among others. Her commercial clients include Louis Vuitton, Chanel, Versace, Calvin Klein and Marni.
Colombo captured Camille Miceli’s second ready-to-wear collection at PUCCI as the first female artistic director of the Italian house. Styled in collaboration with Imruh Asha, the joyfulness of the collection, titled ‘La Piazzetta,’ is accentuated by the experimental set.
Miceli draws inspiration from the 1957 ‘Palio’ collection and PUCCI’s portrayal of strong women that saw the founding designer Emilio Pucci dress women in capri pants. Power is symbolized again with black serving as the subdominant color throughout the collection – and Miceli’s new logo, two fish aligning head to head, a playful display found on the jewelry and accessories – marks the brand’s new era.
COS x Lea Colombo displays a spectrum of color that showcases the chromaticity at the heart of her creative practice, which spans fine, installation, and experiential art. The inspiration of natural beauty — specifically flora and fauna — is seen in wearable canvases. Intensely pigmented hues marry sculptural shapes with fluidity, and this can be most clearly seen in three exclusive prints on warm-weather staples for men and women.
The mood-boosting collaboration centers around Colombo’s joyous use of color and understanding of photographic darkrooms: the floral depictions are blown out of scale and are seen in often unusual colors, contrasted against bold reds, sunny yellows and washed-out black hues for the ultimate impact across COS’s signature shapes – boxy shirts, floaty dresses, cascading skirts, simplistic swimwear and more. For the swimwear, Colombo and COS came together to offer sustainable pieces made from Econyl, which can be recycled multiple times to give a new life made from old garments.
Colombo’s output connects us to color’s primal power and its remarkable ability to shift our mood and that of those around us. An immersive Lea Colombo exhibition joins the release of the collection at COS’ hybrid store, Coal Drops Yard, in London.
“The opportunity to collaborate with Lea and explore her unique processes allowed us to take our brand DNA and truly reimagine the designs through her work. Embracing the synergy between art and fashion, we showcase Lea’s enthusiastic, mood-boosting approach to color and how she embraces an individual approach to style.”
As the fashion world continues to mourn the loss of Virgil Abloh, Louis Vuitton is ensuring that the late work of their creative director is not forgotten. As a precursor to the official Fall/Winter 2022 collection, the French luxury fashion house has unveiled its Pre-Fall 2022 collection, photographed by Colombo. The collection continues to exemplify and carry on Abloh’s design philosophy informed by the clothes that people actually wear.
In January 2022, Colombo launched a capsule collection with Milan-based clothing brand, Palm Angels, exclusive to luxury multi-brand fashion retailer, The Webster. First known in the fashion world as Moncler’s Artistic Director, Italian designer and photographer Francesco Ragazzi’s Palm Angels line takes inspiration heavily from 90s Los Angeles West Coast culture and fuses it with upscale and luxury nuances, interpreting American streetwear through an Italian mindset. Colombo’s visual, multi-dimensional journey through the California desert influences custom prints and graphics that she designed and photographed for this exclusive pairing.
"I dress very colorfully so my work is very colorful. Both are an extension of my expression and understanding of self and my surrounds.”
An exploration of her relationship with her higher self, Colombo’s inaugural solo exhibition ‘Colours of My Body’ opened at SPACEBY in Cape Town and Terminal 27 Los Angeles in September 2021. The independently-produced exhibition is an evolution of Colombo’s practice from photography into painting, print, mixed media, and sculpture, in which she explores a visual journey toward individuation through the use of color, light and energy.
The monumental collection of work includes more than 44 original darkroom prints, digital images, bronze and stone sculptures, lighting, furniture, and installation art. Shown in various hues, the vibrant colors shift and awaken different conversations within. ‘Colours of My Body’ is a deeply intimate and personal survey of the artist’s connection to consciousness.
“‘Colours of My Body’ is a bold exploration of feminine energy, spirituality, and the divine self via mixed media.”
“I loved the process of adapting these new mediums to my intuitive understanding of colour – harnessing it in different ways whilst exploring its power, energy and gravitational pull.”
Colombo infused Versace with a dose of optimism in a psychedelic campaign for the house’s Resort 2022 collection. The graphics and colors of the collection throw signature Versace codes back to the heady, radiant aesthetics of the 70s, all seen through a contemporary lens.
Psychedelic-rock-inflected motifs fuse with Medusas and labyrinth touches, reflecting the spirit of love and positive change through an indulgent and dazzling campaign that excellently captures the mood of possibility and positivity that unmistakably inspired the collection.
"Colombo's use of high-contrast, washed-out colors and glimmering, distorted projections make the psychedelic energy of the collection really pop.”
Colombo’s SS22 campaign for Akoni Eyewear, brought to life alongside brother Roberto, exudes the nostalgia of retrofuturism while still having its feet rooted firmly in the present. With a balance of monochrome images offset by vibrant shots of blurred movement, the dynamic expression of creative freedom in the campaign represents Akoni Eyewear’s ethos of liberation while demonstrating Colombo’s signature propensity for vivid and often unexpected color combinations.
Founded in 2020, Akoni Eyewear continues to establish itself as an emerging eyewear brand to watch. The collection – inspired by mid-century architectural talents and classic Hollywood icons – sees a blend of powerful, sculptural shapes and more refined elegant detailing come together, as Akoni Eyewear puts modern twist on a series of classic silhouettes.
"Akoni defines itself as ‘framing visionaries,’ and a true visionary is eager and open to exploring and experiencing the art, emotions and beauty that surrounds all of us."
Colombo collaborated with Spanish fashion brand, Gimaguas, on a curation of special prints taken from images of her trips to Sri Lanka. With a focus on the Blue Lotus Flower, symbolizing rebirth, Colombo reinterpreted the prints with her signature of color and light to create bespoke patterns for the Spring/Summer 2022 capsule collection.
In celebration of International Women’s Day, Colombo collaborated with Aritzia to create a limited-edition collection featuring work from her latest series, ‘Colours of My Body.’ Depicting dreamlike physical forms and bold colors, the collection embodies the light and energy of Aritzia’s favorite IWD equation: Women to the Power of Women.
100% of proceeds from this collection will be donated to Aritzia Community partners to support women and girls.
Revealing a raw and intimate side to her subjects by harnessing the power of color to guide emotion, Colombo’s captivating photographs have been commissioned by fashion publications including M Le Monde, Beauty Papers, Numéro Art, Replica, Dazed & Confused, Re-Edition, Dust Magazine, and Arena Homme+.
"The work of Lea Colombo has become more complex and denser but has always preserved its heart: the color, omnipresent, frontal and explosive, like a boxer punching the viewer’s eye to reach their whole body."
"For me, color is so important and essential. It's so interesting because color is always changing and emotions are always changing.”
Highly sought after for her individuation both as artist and an individual – she is both autonomous and powerful, feminine, and strong – Colombo has collaborated on extraordinary advertising campaigns with top luxury and streetwear brands including Fenty, Nike, RE/DONE, Moncler, MCM, Marni, Berluti, Superdry, Miu Miu, and Calvin Klein.
Colombo photographed Superga’s Autumn/Winter 2022 campaign featuring the Italian shoe brand’s new ambassador, model and style influencer Iris Law, who perfectly embodies the true heritage of Superga with her effortless personal style and laid-back attitude.
Originating in the tennis world and once best known for its tennis shoes, the shoot for the brand’s new campaign took place at The National Tennis Association, on world-class tennis courts used by Britain’s greatest tennis players.
Selected for her intimate images and outspoken style in which she explores all facets of color, Colombo’s campaign focuses on the Superga Classic 2750, a style that was conceived as the first Italian tennis shoe over a century ago, and the upgraded 2641 Alpina Boot, which derives inspiration from 1950s trekking boots.
"Dedication to craft is at the heart of her work, and comes through vividly in all she captures.”
Alongside her photography, painting, print, mixed media, and sculpture works, Colombo has directed numerous short films for luxury brands including Givenchy, Fenty, Calvin Klein, Superdry, Nike, and MCM.
Colombo’s independently-produced exhibition ‘Colours of My Body’ opened at SPACEBY in Cape Town and Terminal 27 Los Angeles in September 2021, featuring more than 44 original darkroom prints, digital images, bronze and stone sculptures, lighting, furniture, and installation art. She also participated in ‘Weekend Special,’ a group exhibition of work at SMAC Gallery, which formed part of Cape Town Art Weekend in 2021.
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