Saturday, November 28, 2015

Scatter #81

    I suppose I should call this the first Scatter of the Holiday Season.  Not this this assemblage has anything whatever to do with it.  But it's past Thanksgiving now so its going to be on most folk's minds till year's end.   The other thing on my mind is that, before this year is out, Attire's Mind here on blogspot will reach its 500th post.   Whew!
    So, let's get to it!

    First out of the gate, this album cover from the 1970s.   What struck me here is that the pose the artist is in, which is supposed to be commanding and sexy, gives a great look at the essential proportions and silhouette that was the baseline for the era. The legs are narrow cones leading up to the midsection.  His shirt is quite trimly cut which subtly accentuates the volume of hair and beard.  So what we get at the end is a very slimly drawn set of triangles, intersecting in the middle.  The 70s, especially for men, was the first full decade where a far more overt visual sexuality was not only available through apparel choices, but highly desirable.  Super tight pants emphasized crotch and rear. Tight cut tricot shirts enhanced fit upper bodies. And the fashion at the time for medallions and chains drew further attention to the male chest.  It was a major shift in men's Attire, that was part of a larger manifestation that signaled the cultural shifts going on about sex.
    Commes des Garcons has made a career out of shaking us up and trying to move the conversation forward in different direction.  This wedding dress from 2012 is a perfect example.  Satire in apparel form. Almost every aspect of this design is deliberately too big, calling traditions about weddings, and marriage into question.  The model looks lost within this, as though the married state has already begun to subsume her personality, and person.  The enormous bow, sitting front and center, makes it quite clear that the bride is being displayed as a gift to her future husband. And the lumpy, disheveled headdress and veil, imply her personal befuddlement at her upcoming state.  Of course, this is all my read on this, what I see.   What do you see?
    The way that men are being portrayed in fashion editorials is shifting, along with our culture's ideas about what men should be like.  Sure, the publishing industry is still awash with images of brooding guys in run down body shops, and lonely diners.  But more, and more images like this one are appearing.  Such images are signals of change.  More sensual than deliberately sexual, and possessed of a striking preferential ambiguity, pictures like this one are becoming increasingly popular in fashion periodicals, both printed, and online.  We are permitting, in fact encouraging men, with images like this, to allow their softer selves, and their emotional selves to be on view without apology.  Its about damned time.
    I love this asymmetrical evening coat/wrap.  I also love this look at the dominant silhouette of the 1920s.  The variation seemed to be between tube shaped, and slightly barrel shaped.  Certainly the dresses and suits of the time presented a tubular ideal most of the time, and a huge percentage of the coats and cloaks were spindle-like, rounded outward from the body.  Of course there were other shapes that were popular, but this one was the top player, for a whole decade.
    This portrait brooch was designed by the Paris based jeweler Georges Fouquet in 1895.  It is made in yellow gold and white gold, with multiple colors of enamel.  Blue ribbons around the face, which is framed with two clusters of lilies.  A cabochon moonstone is caught in the tendrils of the hair, and a pendant pearl hangs at the bottom.  What makes this such a unique piece is the subject of the portrait.  This is Sarah Bernhardt.  The enamel work of the face is particularly fine, shading with amazing subtlety, considering the size of the brooch, which is just over 2.5 inches.
    Patterns clearly have a significant role in what gets related by a garment, or set of pieces.  This outfit from Fendi's S/S 2016 collection is a case in point.  The shapes of the clothing themselves are completely basic. Nothing about cut or fit is unusual.  The only thing that distinguishes these clothes is the pattern.  Do I think this works?  No, not really. I find the pattern too fussy. It ends up looking like visual interference, utterly obliterating the form underneath.  Perhaps that is part of the point, creating urbanized camouflage that allows the wearer to pass unseen on the streets.
    The western world got knitted clothing from the Middle Eastern nations, where it originated.  For centuries strong trade existed between Europe and the Mideast for anything knitted.  Shirts, caps, jackets, and gloves were quite popular; and of course stockings.  This pair of gloves is from the 1670s, and originally belonged to a Catholic bishop from England. Made in green silk twist, they are knitted also with gold yarn to create the details, and most importantly the crests on both gloves.
    The cocoon coat has been around quite a while, starting out in the late 1800s, and gaining huge popularity by the teens, it has been around in one way or another, ever since.  This one, by Jeremy Scott, distills the idea down to the bare minimum possible.  In so doing, and partly due to the colors and textiles chosen, it gains a strong sense of the futuristic.  What we have here is only a bit more than an oval wrapped around the frame.  Does this look like a practical garment?  No.  But it sure as hell makes an impact.
    Another menswear shot that bucks the old trends.  Its a dramatic image, and full of differing messages, but none of them are the standard issue macho guy stuff.  I am also in love with that red coat with the short sleeves.  But mostly I'm in love with the interaction of tradition in the white shirt and necktie, the reference to another culture with the fez, and the choice of model, and position.  It creates a story that needs to be related.
    Call it cultural appropriation, if you wish.  Collections of garments like this are going to increase in frequency.  What makes this one of particular interest to me is the psychology of it.  In most cultures, the headgear carries the most significance, since it is physically closest to the mind.  Those things we hold most dear to us we wear on our heads, or over our hearts.  So, in this case, the message delivered is that the wearer is passionate about, if not the culture from which that hat comes, (probably Tibet), then other cultures in general.  This increasing cross cultural mixing fascinates me.
    This wig ad is from the early 60s.  I haven't really spent any time, yet, on make up, and its role as part of the Attire language.  But seeing this image really brought it home how much a player it is.  Its clear that the intent here is to convey a sexiness.  But to modern eyes, these ladies have a distinctly maniacal look that is nearly demonic.  Sure some of that is about pose and lighting, but the make up style is a major part of why it feels as it does.  Guess I'm going to have to do a make up post sometime soon.

     The final entries today are these two images.  All three of these are dance costumes from the Ballets Russes.  The designs were created by Leon Bakst, who did most of their costumes. The first is from a ballet called Le Dieu Bleu, which premiered in 1912, on May 13 at the Theatre Chatelet in Paris.  The libretto by Jean Cocteau was choreographed by Michel Fokine, to music by Reynaldo Hahn.  The second image is of two costumes by Bakst from Sheherazade.  Sheherazade opened in Paris on June 4, 1910, with music by Rimsky-Korsakov.  The premiere dancers were Ida Rubenstein, and Vaslav Nijinsky.  These three costumes, and I've seen these up close, were mostly painted cottons, though the effect from even a small distance away is dazzlingly lavish.  What strikes me is how much dance costume has evolved over time.  No one would think of costuming a dancer in this much these days.  But still, wonderful, and inspiring.  In fact, the Ballets Russes inspired fashion and art for a decade.

    Well that's all she wrote for today. Go out there and enjoy your weekend!


  1. I actually thought the model at the top was you. to which my only possible reply would have been, "GURL YOU GOTTA WERK."

  2. Honestly, Gurl that WAS me, many, MANY years ago. Gravity has made all the difference.