Saturday, April 11, 2015

Scatter #53

    Once more I open up my brain pan, reach in and grab a bunch of stuff that's laying there on the surface, and shove it, willy-nilly into your faces.  But y'all seem to enjoy it, and it clears away some of the clutter for me, so its a double win.
    So, here comes this weeks edition of Scatter!
    First up today, this image of the wonderful Josephine Baker taken in the 1920s.  This is obviously a costume for one of the many revues in which she performed, the sheer scale of it is amazing.  It would have made her the center point of attention on the stage, wherever she appeared.  This is also, clearly something from when she was at the height of her fame, since costumes like this would have been very expensive, and only a star of the first ranking would've been able to command such work.  Its interesting that though the costume is huge, and the decorative motifs of pineapples massive, the eye is inevitably drawn up to he marvelous face.  First rate design work, this.
    I have not really focused on hairstyles as a part of the Attire language, though they clearly are vitally important to the communicative power of what we say each and every day.  This image is so evocative to me, even in its utter simplicity.  The way the man's hair spikes, and how the leaf trimming is wound about his head, speak loudly, and eloquently, even though the relative styling is minimal.  Its by such tiny things, really, that the Attire language gains so much of its vast ability to convey emotion, thought, and sense of place and time.  I'm endlessly fascinated.
    It wouldn't be a Scatter post without at least one piece of bling to fling in your faces.  This one is from the house of Faberge, and from the work room of Erik August Kollin.   He devised this pectoral cross in 1885, and its bears strong references to the design sensibilities of the times.  Right at this point there was a deeply felt connection to the Gothic, and this piece gets most of its form from that time.  The silver base is enameled in a matte finish that gives a seriousness to the piece, with its dark color.  The stones are teardrop cut garnets, with small rose cut diamonds.  All in all, a remarkably restrained piece for the Faberge house.
    One of the many things I have always appreciated about John Galliano is his unabashed romanticism.  He is unafraid of allowing his imagination to run riot, presenting dark heroines that we can well imagine being pursued down long dark corridors in some vast castle somewhere.  This isn't a real world outfit, of course it isn't.  But the point is presenting this notion of flagrantly romantic extravagance.  Would I love it if people actually dressed this way?  Hells to the yeah!  More visual drama!
    Oh, Bernhard Wilhelm, you irrepressible scamp, you.  I fell in love with his work when I first discovered him last year, and his gleeful, in your face playfulness appeals to my sense of  shaking things up.  It seems that in his hands there is nothing whatever that is sacrosanct. Everything and anything is capable of being messed with, changed up, and given a stiff jolt of whimsy in the process.  I look forward with pleasure to more from this man.  His work isn't gender free, but it certainly is class and station free.  This is clothing for a new age, for new sorts of people.
    Gustav Klimt had, in Emilie Floge, a life long muse and partner in design.  They both were dress reformers, who wanted to get people, especially women, out of their confinement and give them freedom to move.  This little number is one such attempt.  Sure, its rather absurd to our 21st century eyes.  But think about this within the context of its time.  Apart from the vast padded hemline, which would impede certain types of motion, she is under no body constraints at all, which, living in a world dominated by corseting and endless layers of clothing, must have felt amazing.
    I've written a good deal about gender free design, and its growing influence.  Its potency in the design community is still growing, so much so that even major couture designers like Balenciaga, are producing menswear collections that have a distinctly A Gender stamp to them.  These two examples come from Balenciaga's most recent menswear collection, and in both form and styling they are being presented as something outside of typical gender norms.  I'm thrilled to see this gaining ground at this level.  We will doubtless be seeing much more of it as time goes on.
    Miss Anne Baxter, costumed for her role in Cecil B DeMille's The Ten Commandments.  She's gorgeous, no doubt of that.  But there is not one single thing about her apparel that is correct to time or place, with the possible exception of her bracelets.   What I find hilarious about things like this is that inevitably, the studio trumpets the exhaustive research that went into making the clothing as accurate as possible.  Lets see here, pleated silk chiffon?  Nope.  Brassieres? Nope.  Clothing sewn with body hugging seams?  Not in Egypt. Zippers? Oh HELL no, not till 1926.  Shame on you Mr DeMille.  These sorts of misrepresentations of history don't do anyone any favors.
    1825-30 was a great time for men's tailoring.  We hadn't yet completely lost the dandy in the rush towards stodgy modernity.  So, even in relatively simple ensembles like this one, there was considerable dash, in the roll of collar, and the tightness of breeches.  And that Hat!  Gotta love a great big topper like that.

Sometimes I love the structural tension that exists between differing textiles when they are used with skill and attention to detail.  This evening dress is by Azzi & Osla, from their S/S 2015 collection.  We get firm rigidity in the corset top, playful fluffiness with the silk tulle and a grandeur and formality that comes from the simple shape of the firm silk fabric skirt.  That this is all rendered in the same color, gives it an overall simplicity of focus that I find appealing.  Bravo to Azzi & Osla.

A great little hat can be all you need, sometimes.  It doesn't matter to me one bit that this is a women's hat. So what?  Its a wonderful little hat and I think this fellow knows exactly how to rock it.  I would love to see lots more of this sort of thing.  Men could gain a great deal by breaking out of their own little self imposed molds.
    To round out this week's Scatter, this image of Italian goldwork embroidery.  The level of workmanship here is simply off the charts.  This is utter perfection in every detail, and uses a couple of dozen differing techniques in its accomplishment.  That such work is even still possible makes me smile, and gives me hope for the future.  We cannot allow such craft to fade from the world. We would lose far more than just its undeniable beauty.  We would lose something of ourselves, in the process.
    Thass all folks!  Have A GRAND WEEKEND!

1 comment: