Saturday, November 21, 2015

Scatter #80

    A couple of serious oddities within this week's Scatter.  It continues to amaze me, the breadth of the creativity of the human mind.  So, with that said, onward into my brain pan for a rummage around.
    Speaking of creativity, Christian Lacroix is one of the more creative spirits within the design community.  I love his combination of humor, extremely high level understanding of craft, and a nearly childlike glee at what can be done.  The best word I can think of for the bulk of his work is abandoned.  There is a puckish delight that infuses nearly all his work; a playfulness about pattern and color that I find delicious.  These two looks are from his Spring/Summer 2009 collection.  Slightly silly in their styling, but immaculately constructed, looked at as individual things, both are actually breathtaking.  The wedding dress with its tiered organdy skirt and embroidered silk brocade bodice and bolero is an unexpected combination of humble textile and extravagant.  The pale pink and black dress is one of his classic expressions of volume, ornament, and drapery.  And lastly, the pose of the two models, just makes me smile.
    Sometimes it takes a simple thing, only, to take a garment we would otherwise ignore for its banality, and transform it into something arresting.  And if we think of how to use the Attire language to effect, this sort of detail makes a huge difference.  A gray topcoat?  Boring. this topcoat?  Memorable.  In structure this Alexander McQueen coat is entirely bland, a utterly classic topcoat.  The introduction of those stripes, and their placement brings energy to the design, and creates an emphatic visual impression of strength.
    This Faberge' piece is from about 1899.  A huge trapezoidal aquamarine is mounted in a platinum frame in the form of a quiver with arrows.  The vines, arrows, and bow knots are all filled in with diamonds.  Jewelry is one of the forms that we utilize continually to reference, and transform, commonplace, and rarefied objects, elevating them to new status, and creating of them an iconography.  A quiver of arrows takes on new meaning, visually, when it appears like this.  It becomes more romantic, and more layered in its ability to communicate.
    The gorget is the part of the armor that protects the neck and shoulders from injury.  This one is gold, and was made as part of a suit of ceremonial armor for Louis XIII of France in 1630.  The central medallion depicts Louis himself as Mars, on a rampant horse, sword drawn.  These details would naturally be lost on the folk watching from the sides as he passed, but the gleam of gold would surely have made an impression.  Its a remarkable example of both the armorer's and the jeweler's craft.
    In the 1860s, when skirts expanded like a hot air balloon and one of the ways to show off wealth was the extreme amount of fabric in use to cover all that area, a fashion emerged that bumped up the volume even more.  For a short while, before that half dome collapsed into the bustle, it was popular to have a complete over skirt that was then brought up with internal tapes to reveal the skirt beneath.  This was, a lady could display vastly more useless, but expensive fabric to the onlooker.  Honestly, as a style it was quite odd looking, and to my eye, destroyed the line of the silhouette.
     I've had this image of a Frankie Morello ensemble hanging around for a while, and I keep coming back to it.  I'm still not sure why, really.  Perhaps its the combination of textiles, and texture.  Maybe its because that color combination is one I enjoy a good deal.  In any case there is something that is compelling to me here.  Firm structure, and easy looseness in combination.  I had to share it, if for no other reason than to get it out of my head for sure.  (grin)
    This is from the Chanel Cruise collection for 2016.  What constitutes cruise wear these days is a complete mystery to me.  It looks more like straight up summer wear. I'm really on the fence about this.  Partly its because I dislike the overly infantile styling.  I'm not a fan of making grown up women look like little girls.  But I do like the evident craft of the design. That's a lot of careful assembly of pieces in what looks to be organza, not the easiest of textiles to work with.  I also wonder what relevance this sort of overtly child like look has in our current society.
    When I saw this what I saw was a conglomeration of influences coming together.  The final result works, but pulled to pieces it doesn't feel like they should.  Part of that is why I find the increase of use of wildly disparate ideas in design exciting.  Un-thought of concepts become reality more often as we pull notions from all over the place. And when we mix that with new textiles that didn't exist before, it just gets better.
    New Dehli based designer Manish Arora has a thing about color, and shine.  This combination of textures and colors is beguiling.  The Sci-Fi fan in me, and I'm a big one, loves the print here, too.  Rows of floating space-borne cities or stations with stars and planets, but all in pinks and lavenders.  This is also an interesting use of sheer and opaque together.  The placement of the sheer at the hem of the blouse reveals only a tiny sliver of skin behind it, and that only at certain angles.  I find that more provocative than the in your face sheer over next to nothing trend that continues.  Also?  Perfect workmanship.
    Now you might, looking at these think they were women's shoes, but you'd be so wrong.  These are Uzbeki men's riding shoes made in about 1850, in Afghanistan.  The very high heels are to help the foot stay in the stirrup. I love the sweeping curves of these. There is something nearly lyrical about them.  They are decorated with some silver studs and with polychrome embroidery in silk.  If I didn't have bunions like crazy, would I wear these?  Hell yes I would.
    It is rare enough when fashionable hats survive, since they were so often remade and re-trimmed till they fell to bits.  That this one, fragile as it is, survives is a miracle, and in such wonderful condition.  This summer bonnet is from 1840.  It is made of two layers, the inner one is of sheer gauze, edged with lace. The outer layer is beautifully hand worked eyelet lace, with embroidery.  The support structure is a wire ring at the rear, to which pink silk covered whalebone pieces have been  attached.  One of the things I've always found interesting about this style of headgear is that it is this perfect balance point between rectitude, and flirtatiousness.  The lady wearing it could proclaim to all that she was an upright person, and yet, the mere fact that her face get obscured unless standing directly in front of her, increases the desire to take a look. We are curious creatures, and we always want to take a look.
    As a last entry, something very different from my usual run, but something that is still most definitely part of the Attire language.  To the tribal people of New Guinea, it's considered inappropriate for children, and single women to see the penis.  In answer to the need for coverage, a wide variety of things have been used, with many different names, depending on tribal group.  Most commonly known as a koteka, they are worn to protect the genital, as well as to keep them out of sight.  Frequently made of grasses, and shaped to look like an erect member, others are made from gourds that are grown specially for the purpose.  The emphasis, is always on creating an image that implies great size to the hidden male appendage. so, even when they can't show it off they show it off anyhow, symbolically.  As a side note, the skirt made of reed hoops is fascinating.

And that, my friends concludes this week's romp in my head.  Enjoy your weekend!


  1. Much fun! I especially love the shoes and the Lacroix. The lady with the looped up overskirt is the Grand Duchess Alexandra Iosifovna of Russia, née Princess Alexandra of Saxe-Altenburg who, as here, was always très à la mode. My understanding of the style pictured is that was designed for practicality, as a "walking costume". (The simplicity of the rest of her toilette certainly corroborates that.) The skirts don't trail on the ground, and the underskirt is shorter and much less drape-y. It's said that the Empress Eugénie popularized the style, and you can certainly see examples of it in outdoorsy French paintings of the time, the beach scenes of Boudin being a good example.

  2. Thanks for adding these bits. I knew about their being meant as walking costumes, don't know why I chose to leave it out. I appreciate you!