Saturday, January 31, 2015

Scatter #42

    Its hard for me to believe that I've been doing these scatter posts every week for this long now, But there it is.  So without further ado,...
    Here's one of the first African American models to make it to the big time. Naomi Sims.  Her Presence, and the appearance of other models who were not Caucasian signaled a massive change culturally.  Japanese Hiroko Matsumo, and the imperishable Iman, made being a woman of color into something we wished, finally, to elevate rather than ignore.  Sure, these models were still few and far between, and there's still a great deal of work to be done before the reality of the human populace is reflected on runways, but progress is being made.  And this image, like so many of its ilk, was a harbinger of that change.  Sometimes fashion, all unknowing, presents us with such needed changes, in ways we can grasp, and in so doing, performs a useful function far beyond its stated goal.  Naomi Sims in Pierre Cardin, for Harper's Bazaar, December 1968.
    Two models in a shoot for Wonderland Magazine.  Two things in this appeal to me. One is the color combination.  That serene tan with that intense royal blue is a wonderful juxtaposition.  The coat on the right has some interesting things going on, though it is clearly massively over-scaled, probably on purpose.  Its also clear that the lower sleeve, and the funnel collar both are tied on extra pieces, which could be used or not as the wearer wishes.  Its a cool notion and one worth further exploration.  Such an idea could easily move into the ready to wear, and be translated into practical usage as a part of the Attire language.
    Alexandre Vaulthier sent these Capri pants down the runway of his S/S 2015 showing in Paris.  As a piece of high voltage glamor, they are remarkable.  As an item for the real world, not really, no.  But what strikes me most is the embroidery work which is in a style that 20 years back we simply wouldn't have conceived of.  This is another example of how the design community reaches into the collective subconscious, and brings to life ways of thinking, and seeing, that exist there as ideas belonging to their time, and no other.
    Body proportions shift and blur constantly, especially these days, with so many designers able to put their ideas out in the world.  This menswear effort by Boris Bidjan Saberi is from the F/W 2015 collection and subtly plays with proportion for men by shifting the apparent waistline inches above its normal position.  What keeps it from looking awkward to my eye is that all the other break points are spot on at the position we are most visually comfortable with.  The coat ends at the base of the hip. The tunic ends at the knee. The pants are rolled to mid calf.  All of those are logical places for garments to begin and end in our minds, so we are willing to accept the one thing that does not stay within that range.
    This beautiful object is a head ornament from Iran.  It was made in the early 19th century and bears a portrait of Fath Ali Shah.  The gold ornament has rough cut topaz stones, small rubies and Baroque pearls, and seed pearls.  Can't you just see this pinned on a beautifully wound turban?  Ahh, the human creative impulse.  Wonderful.
    In the 1740s this incredible piece of artistry was created.  Its a court mantua.  What makes it remarkable is that there is hardly a part of it left uncovered by some of the most beautiful embroidery work around.  The whole of the skirt, the border of the bodice, and its cuffs, are all densely and riotously embroidered with a botanical garden's worth of different flowering plants.  The skirt, which by the way is near 5 feet wide, is held out by rigid panniers, and the bodice has vestigial folds down the back which would have been an over skirt in another time. The work is done in sliver thread, purl, and strip, with many different colors of silk thread for the flowers and leaves.
    Oh those rascal punks.  This image brought me up short.  I find it both challenging, which is of course the point, but also beautiful in an otherworldly way.  Human as insect.  That this fellow has shaved his eyebrows only adds to the visual power of what he has achieved here.  Some people have the chutzpah to bring the most aggressive of Attire statements to visual life. Bravo, sir. bravo.
    Though it is no longer considered in good taste, there was a time when a necklace like this would have been a blaring fanfare of wealth, status, and taste.  This massive necklace of sapphires and diamonds comes from a time when more was most certainly more, the late 19th century.  Though the titled might have demurred from wearing such things outside of state occasions, the newer wealth and the wives of the new industrial giants felt no such constraints.  It was an instant reminder of their position.  And, never for a moment forgetting the horror of how these rocks were acquired , the result of the artisans labor is a thing of magnificence.

    We have often heard of the Bright Young Things of England's 1920s and 30s.  Here are three of them, all got up in gender bending style.  One of the things that marked the mostly wealthy, and highly educated Bright Young Things was their willingness to experiment with all sorts of social conventions.  So they got themselves togged out in frocks and amalgamations of oddments to create a fluid sort of surface image that defied definition by the terms of the day.  Here we have first, George Rylands, then Boy Lebas, and finally, Cecil Beaton tricked out as an 18th century dandy.  You scamps, you.
    Oddly, the corset was not, for most of its long history, the last garment a lady removed.  In fact, there was yet another thing beneath, her shift, or chemise, which among those of lesser wealth usually served as sleepwear.  This example is of French make from 1907.  Its covered in cream silk satin, with blonde Chantilly lace, and a large satin bow. This is also one of the s bend corsets, which pushed the torso forward and up, creating a higher bust. The large satin bow also served another purpose aside from being decorative.  It could aid a lady who was less ample up front to create the illusion of more.
    It must be said.  Not all experiments work.  Though I'm fully on board with the mix of houndstooth check, and houndstooth plaid, the red tartan miniskirt thingy looks slapped on randomly, rather than being contributive to the whole.  And that lips tattoo?  Just plain tacky.  Perhaps I might be more positive if the red plaid had been used in some other place, drawing it into the whole design. And surely the proportion of it with relation to the rest of the outfit is off. It needs to be longer.  Harumph.
    The coat dress is an article of clothing I envy women for. Its easy to deal with, gives the wearer a polished look and boom, you're done in one go.  Nothing like that for us men folk.  Here are two contemporary coat dresses to round out this session of Scatter.  The green was printed on Vogue Italia, and though I'm not convinced about the blue ribbons on the sides, the color and shape of the coat are spectacular.  The red one was designed by Vika Gazinskaya for her F/W 2014 collection, and I approve, unreservedly.

So that's this weeks pile of stuff for you to sort through.
Have a wondrous weekend, everyone!

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