Saturday, March 26, 2016

Scatter #96

  We are coming up fast onto my 100th Scatter post.
  The world is full of wonders. 
  So many things to share, so little time to do so.  So let's get cracking, shall we?
    It's been quite a while since I weighed in on the man skirt thing.  This example caught my attention because It made me think of another way that skirts for men could gain more acceptability in the Western world.  This long skirt, due to its material and pattern recalls elegant silk pajamas.  perhaps introducing skirts as lounge wear alternatives for men might be a good way to go to ease them into menswear in a way that would be less discomfiting to most guys.  Worn in the privacy of the home, they could get used to the idea.  And something tells me this would feel great.   Also, the model. You're welcome.
    The interaction between the frankly fake fur of this coat and the luxurious Indian styled embroidery work is wonderful.  To my mind it creates an interesting tension.  There is all that beautiful, time intensive hand work enclosing fur that is an obvious product of technology.  I often see things like this where the merging of manufacture and craft create something that helps us relate ancient artistry to the world in which we now live.
    Three things made me want to share this man's suit from 1780.  One is that glorious shade of green.  Not much survives from that time that is such an intense green.  Green dyes were often quite unstable and would fade quickly, particularly in cottons and silks.  This suit is made of wool, which tends to hold dye more effectively.  Another reason is that it's such a wonderful example of what a middle class man would have worn.  It's well made, and discretely trimmed, but simple.  The final reason is that it shows the unique cut of sleeves that disappeared in the 1800s.  Men's two piece sleeves are now cut with the outer piece large enough that the seams are shifted to the inside surface.  In the prior centuries sleeves for both women and men were cut so that the seam was running straight down the center front of the sleeve.  The sleeve also was much more strongly arced than is normal now.
    Speaking of sleeves, check this out.  This detail image is of a wedding dress sleeve from 1835.  The attention to small details is amazing.  The narrow cuff has a tiny heading of two rows of satin covered cord.  The tailored bow is finished with bias satin edging and the outer surface of the sleeve is covered by an elaborate basket woven motif created out of more satin covered cording.  Making all those yards of covered cord would have taken a whole day, and another to pin it all in place and sew it down with discrete stitches underneath. There is a certain unevenness to the way this is constructed which implies that this was a garment made by loving hands at home; possibly even the bride to be herself during the months before her wedding.
    Say hello to Maharajah Singhji Bahadur, the Maharao Raja of Alwar.  I post this image because one of the things that seems always to be the case is that the more formal a set of garments becomes, the less comfortable it is.  The maharajah's tunic is cut to be skin tight, and the sleeves are cut high and close, making movement more problematic.  His collar is quite tight as well, and then covered with the enormous necklace.  His hair and beard are carefully coiffed, pomaded and pinned into perfect symmetry, and his hat is perched at such an angle it could only stay there with help from combs or pins.  But, if you are meaning to convey that you are a person to be reckoned with, then this is how it is done.  What finally sells this sort of statement to a viewer is seeing that it's various discomforts are of no consequence to the wearer.
    You all know that I mostly take a very positive approach to what I'm about here, and how I comment on what I show you.  This is one of those times when that's going to be hard to pull off  Frankly the only thing I can say that is remotely positive is that the way the exposed area zigzags across the hipline is an unusual visual trick.  I can see that an attempt is being made here to create something that looks as though the entire structure of the garment would collapse if the cording was unlaced. I honestly don't think it really works.  There, I said it.
     I would never wear this no matter how much I like it, which I do.  What I like about it that an established shape and garment, the sweat shirt, had been re-imagined as a sleek and powerful looking article by breaking the basic pattern pieces and reassembling the same shape with a bold design.  The light gray vee shapes lift the attention up to the shoulder line and the face.  And the stiffness of the material makes the design look even more boldly commanding.  Why would I not wear it?  It's neoprene. Too sweat inducing.
    We clever humans are always thinking of ways to take simple things and make them more complicated.  This is one such instance.  Called a Gimmel ring this tripartite piece stays firmly together until the bezel that holds the ruby enameled cushion and the diamond are twisted, allowing the structure to unlock so that the hidden message can be seen. These sorts of rings were very popular in Europe during and after the Renaissance and were frequently used as betrothal rings.  This one is from between 1600 and 1650, and the legends are in German.  The first translates as "My beginning and my end."  The second legend is from the wedding service which suggests this was used as a wedding ring, "What God has joined together should no man put asunder."
    Cultural intersection has been going on for as long as we have.  This is a more subtle example.  These shoes from 1880 were made for export from Turkey for the rest of the European market.  Employing their traditional gold work embroidery styles they created shoes like these to appeal to wealthy English, French Italian and American ladies.  The velvet shoes are nearly entirely covered with wonderfully worked embellishments of flowers and birds.  Glorious.
    Few examples remain of menswear from the early part of the 1700s.  This is one of them.  Made of a grayish green wool, this English coat is from between 1720 and 1729. It was the time of huge periwigs, petticoat breeches, shirts with vast gathered sleeves, and masses of superfluous ribbon tabs.  The sleeves are broad to accommodate the volume of the shirt beneath.  The coat skirts are at the widest point they will ever reach, to make room for the breeches which were essentially over-scaled shorts that ended with bunches of ribbon loops.  This coat, with its wide revers and rows of brandenburgs on the front and cuffs would have been day wear for a gentleman of means, or best dress for a well off tradesman.
     I do so love when Attire and surrealism join hands, especially when it's done is a way that is subtle enough to pass notice unless you're really looking.  This at first sight appears merely to be a pair of giant legged, baggy pants.  It's only when you look more critically that you can see that they are cleverly designed to appear to be slapped onto the front of the model's body.  I would be interested to see the back structure to understand how this was done.
    I do love it when a museum decided to display extant items fully accessorized so that we can get a truer picture of their use and the ultimate apparel statement.  This is a particularly great example of that.  The dress is from between 1765 and 1770 and was made in the UK.  The manikin seems caught in a moment of decision. What story would you say is taking place?  Is she a character in it, or an observer?

And that, my friends is all for this week's Scatter.  Have a great weekend!