Saturday, October 25, 2014

Scatter #27

   Well, well, well.  Its that time again, isn't it?  Yep, its time for me to pour forth the detritus of my overcrowded cranium all over you unsuspecting folks.
   Ready?  Good.  Here goes.

   The first item today is this promotional still from an 1881 theatrical production of a play called "The Forty Thieves".  The actors are Kate Vaughn and E W Royce.  What I find interesting about this is how the man's costume is actually, if inaccurate to place, at least relatively believable.  The lady's costume is however completely fantastical and bears no relation whatever to the place or supposed time the play is set.  Put your finger over the lowest part of her to obscure the pantaloons, (the only part of her costume that connects at all with an Arabian setting).  Without the pantaloons what we have is an entirely acceptable, if a trifle ostentatious,  evening dress of the 1880s.
    Next we have this arresting image of Dom Nicolau, the Prince of Congo, photographed by Omar Victor Diop for Project Diaspora, which chronicles rulers and others determined to resist colonialism.  Living from 1830-1860 he was the first African ruler to openly, and in writing, protest the fierce colonialism that overtook Africa.  The photographer, Diop, recreated this gentleman for his Project Diaspora.  The image appeals to me first as an item of resistance to oppression, second, as a chronicle of time, and third for what it says about the influence of culture upon culture.  The Prince is wearing textiles not found in his native country, and his shoes communicate a knowledge of, and interest in a sport unknown to him before colonials arrived in his land.
    This Edward Steichen photograph from 1931 is of the young Martha Graham.  I love the transformative quality of her costume, as if makes her into something amorphous and pliant, far removed from the reality of her shape.  Our apparel choices, even ones as carefully considered as this must have been, allow us to voice something unique about ourselves and our condition. Plus, Graham becomes a kinetic sculpture in this.
    This is also a photograph by Edward Steichen.  This time its a fashion image of a woman in an evening coat by Paul Poiret.  One of Poiret's many contributions to the apparel dialog was the development of what he called the cocoon coat.  This coat, in endless variations, survived his tenancy as a designer, and still gets pulled  out and used now and then along the runways of the world.  Why?  Because the coat is easy to wear, flattering to many, and possesses an innate drama to it in its wide sweep.  Wearing a coat like this, you're nearly required to make a few grand theatrical gestures.
    At a time when a lot of the female stars were being promoted as just plain sex symbols, Ava Gardner stood out among them.  Not only was she dazzling, but she was obviously intelligent, smoking hot and stylish as hell.  This fashion image is a great one. Sure, to contemporary sensibilities its a trifle on the matchy side, with all the jewelry precisely copying the coat color, but the overall image is an amazing one.  Even with that smouldering look she's serving up, I wanna have her over to dinner and get her laughing.
    As a part of how we are translating our understanding of world conditions, we've been increasingly drawn to images in fashion that refer to disrepair, crumbling and age.  Even the coat being promoted in this shot has the feel of being faded out from previously brighter colors.  We do draw our inner thought up to the surface and put it on our backs, we do it all the time.  side note, for thems as wanna know, he's model Maximiliano Patane.  You're welcome.
    In 1972 a film was done by Luchino Visconti about the life of Ludwig of Bavaria called, oddly enough, Ludwig.  This image is of actor Romy Schneider, who played Empress Elisabeth (Sissi).  I post this image because, for its time the costume work was remarkable in its accuracy.  One of the chronic problems in historical film is that women's costume usually has the wrong foundations in place, skewing the body shape away from what was actually worn.  In this shot, really the only mistakes are with hair and makeup.  Hair was dressed up a good deal, but there would have been more of it, especially for a woman of her class.  And the makeup is pure 70s screen siren.  Otherwise?  Bang on.
    A week or so back I did a One Shot post about the court suit of the later 1700s.  This one here is a favorite of mine for its wonderful minty green and for the incredible gold bullion embroidery work it bears.  Bullion work is more complex and time consuming than other embroideries.  In much of this work a padding layer of wadding or string is laid down first and the gold metallic pieces are cut, threaded and laid over the padding to create additional volume and texture.  In this case, all the flowers and most of the connecting vines are padded. The flowers then are worked in brickwork stitch using metal strip.  Even the buttons have been done with bullion work.  this suit must ahve cost a fortune.
    These fantastic earrings of gold  are over 2000 years old, coming from the Etruscan civilization in Italy.  These are truly dazzling.  What a testimonial to art and craft.  I'm gobsmacked.  That is all.
    Bringing up the rear today, model Dylan Williams from Book Moda #3 as photographed by Matteo Felici.  I can't really tell if this coat is yellow rubberized knitted material or whether its been molded to look like it. In either case, I love the rather surreal aspect of it.  Its perfectly styled, allowing the coat to do all the work and alluding to the surreal nature of it with the plants in his hand.  Love this.

Okay folks, that's all for this edition.  Go out there and be FABULOUS.

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