Saturday, August 29, 2015

Scatter #70

    Another week has flown by and here we are again, back in my brain's attic, or is it the sub-basement?  I can never tell.  Anyhow here comes your Scatter to the week!

    As globalization continues to spread, a seemingly endless array of differing ways of employing the Attire language are emerging. These images are of some of the Fashion Rebels of Praetoria, South Africa.  Pulling influences and garments from multiple cultures and sources, they are creating a new dialog that is cheeky, crosses gender boundaries, and challenges us to think differently.


    Congratulations to Maitele Wawe, Sizophila Diezl, and Thifhelimbilu Mudau, of the Social Market Praetoria, who are the minds behind Fashion Rebels, for pushing the conversation forward in this, to me at least, delightful way.
    Very often, accessories are created for runway presentation that the designer knows are never meant to be put into production and worn anywhere besides a layout for a magazine.  But the ephemera that gets created is often powerfully expressive, and all the more so because it will be used in an Attire expression just a few times before fading out of existence.  As absurd as these beaded sandals are, with their feathers grazing the ground, the communicative nature of them is strong.  They inspire immediate imagery and association in our minds. Perhaps we think of Africa, or Native American tribal cultures.  Perhaps we start seeing ritual dance in our minds. Whatever the association we draw up, the point is, that its a potent one.
   
    The importance of body art in our broadening culture is gaining ground daily.  And as it does, more and more people are not just having a tattoo done to have one, but they are beginning to think more holistically, taking the entirety of their person into consideration when they choose and place their permanent body additions.  More and more often, the usage of tattooing, and other body modifications, is taking on a decidedly artful, thoughtful manner of expression.  It makes me look forward to seeing much more of what we crazy, curious, inventive humans will come up with.
    For many people, the 1860s, with the vast round skirts, and abundant decorations, is the apex of romantic dress.  This is a lovely example of that.  Made in England in 1866, this creamy yellow silk ball dress has a cotton tulle overlay that is extensively embroidered in gold thread and purl. There is a second layer, like an apron, worn on the back, and a short ruffle of the tulle with gold, at the broad, low neckline.  This must have been enchanting looking in candlelight, and most especially while sweeping the floor, dancing.  And we are already seeing the beginnings of a train, which presaged the collapse of the skirt and the movement of all that volume to the rear.
    This just made me smile so much I had to add it into the mix.  A shoulder bag designed to look like a huge koi fish.  The introduction of a loudly trumpeting accessory like this has to be handled with care, because it can easily overtake everything else, and drive what is being said visually, in a direction that wasn't intended.  But used thoughtfully, something like this can make the whole assembly sing.  In the case of this, part of what makes this bag work is the great attention to detail. The thoughts that come up for me are Japan, marine biology, and swimming.

    One of the significant changes for men in the past decade or so is the increasing importance of the perfectly sculpted body. Its become your first accessory. And the biggest indicators that you have the right accessory are sculpted pecs, and 8 pack abs.  I understand, and have written many times about the desire we have to mark ourselves as members of a group, culture or tribe. This is exactly that mechanism in action.  What is different of course, is that it is affecting our very bodies, and how we feel about them.  While I will not fault the desire to be fit, what I find worrisome is that its ramping up the level of anxiety around having just the right body.  Of course, women have been dealing with this for a long time now.  And the feminist in me has trouble feeling sympathetic with men who are struggling with this. But in the larger cultural sense, this damages all of us, when we try to force ourselves into a mold that is not really who we are.  So by all means be fit, but don't lose yourself in the process.
    One of the things I appreciate about the designer Manish Arora is his unique approach to surface embellishment work.  While the sleeves and hem are done in a more traditional manner the applied chain with the two steer heads is decidedly unusual, and brings the entire ensemble to another page in the Attire dictionary.  By inserting sly cultural references into the completed look he gives the viewer the opportunity to see more broadly, and receive more story from what is viewed.
    You should all know well enough by now how I feel about the whole sheer thing going on.  When I clap eyes on something like this, though I have to shut up about that for a minute and concentrate on the absolute technical brilliance of the work presented.  Of course this is in no way whatever something to be worn in the real world.  That said, the decorative work here is done to a degree of exactitude that is wonderful to behold.  Do I love the fringes? No, not at all.  But the rest of it is sublimely beautiful even if it is unwearable.
    I am having a case of serious shoe lust for these.  Yup. Major. It is delightful to see that men's footwear, like the rest of men's clothing is getting a big shake up that is allowing new ideas to come forward.  This mash up of a wing tip with a classic golf shoe is great, though I would wear them with some terrific socks.  No shoes with socks for me.
    This is Mary, Duchess of Burgundy, oft times referred to as Mary the Rich, since she inherited the vastly wealthy lands of Burgundy and the Low Countries after the death of her father Charles the Bold in 1477.   Her reign was quite short, (she died in 1482). This portrait shows that she certainly had no problem with the visible display of wealth.  A white silk brocade dress with wide gold embroidered, pearl bedecked bands on her gown, and on her headdress. If we are to believe the size of those pearls, they were huge, and no doubt wildly costly.   Then there is that big honking gold chain, which must have weighed a good deal.
    Meanwhile back at the body discussion,...
    This goes in the WTH category, even for me.  The notion of the long trimly cut tunic is fine.  But making it sheer, and then just plonking a Speedo on the model?  And the back pack?  In the words of Nina Garcia, "who is this person and where are they going?"  This is a great example of an ensemble that is visual gibberish.  The various elements are not working in harmony to create a cohesive visual remark.  These are three conflicting things, so we cannot use them to work out purpose, emotion, or thought.
    The final entry is something of a nod to part of my mixed ethnic heritage.  My dad's side of the family is Hungarian, Rom, actually.  Gypsies.  This outfit was very likely worn as a wedding costume by either Orsolya Esterhazy, or by Eva Thokoly, the two successive wives of Pal Esterhazy (1635-1713).  The skirt which was originally a light blue is faded to a dull green now. The flower basket embroidery is done with padded stitch work in gold and sliver wrapped threads, with coral beads.  The vest is in the traditional Hungarian style and laces broadly across the front.  It became fashionable to wear traditional costume for certain festive occasions, and weddings done in this manner were quite popular.

    So, there you have it, another Scatter duly delivered.  No go have fun this weekend!

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