Saturday, April 30, 2016

Scatter #101

    Welcome back to the weekend. It's time once again for a romp and stomp through my brain's recesses.   So let's get cracking!
    First up this week, beaded tights for fellas.  Well, why not, says I. If you've got the gams for them why the heck not.  Now, these may have been made for a dance performance, but the question remains a valid one.  Is there any real reason why such gear couldn't or shouldn't be worn by the boys in the room?  Apart from tired cultural interdicts, I can't think of any notion why not. Who knows?  As the options that are socially acceptable in menswear continue their expansion, we might just start seeing these.  Certainly leggings and tights have made a return with the hipster set. So this is simply a next step.
    Every once in a while I come across an image of a traje de luces, and it nearly always makes me smile, and sigh.  This is no exception.  What makes me sigh so is the incredible level of workmanship, of artistry that goes into every one of these remarkable suits of clothing.  More than half the total surface of a suit of lights is covered with silk and metal embroidery done in relief.  Hundreds of hours are spent on the creation of just one bolero.  And this cape, with its profusion of pink flowers is a work of the highest art in its own right.  Whatever one might think of the activity this suit is for, it's undeniably that the suit itself is an amazing example of human creativity, and art.
    The shimmer of silver, it's implied chilliness, its luster, compel us continually.  As a species we have always been drawn to shiny things. Pebbles in a stream, dew of plants, metal ores all pull our attention.  And silver, like it's sister in desire, gold, is malleable enough to make nearly anything we desire.  We shape it to our whim into all manner of useful, or fantastical things.  And of course, as soon as we figured out how, we began to wear silver. First we made it into jewelry, and then we learned how to wrap thread with it so we could embroider with it, and weave cloth from it.  Now this contemporary gown is not actually plated with silver. The sequins are plastic, but it mimics so perfectly that we do not mind. After all, it's still shiny, and we love that.
    Here's another remarkable piece of craft.  This gentleman's suit is from the early 1600s, and likely of Spanish manufacture.  What is remarkable here is that the majority of the pattern you see is actually very finely cut kid leather applique work.  The idea of knife cutting such a complex repeating pattern in leather and then sewing it to silk fabric makes my head hurt a little.  The patterns is finished with additional embroidery to take care of the finest details of the pattern. Also on view here, a nice clear look at the way sleeves were cut at the time.  The line you see is actually the join between the two sleeve pieces, finished with leather covered cording. An amazing, and beautiful survivor.
    Here's a really interesting intersection between architecture and apparel.  I admit that I'm not crazy about how the dress looks straight on. The ascending arc is too steep.  I do love how it looks in the 3/4 view.  The seeming rigidity of the design also allows us to fully enjoy the decorative work that has been done.  It gives a strong sense of formality to the piece, which is enhanced by the style of the embellishments.  It's not a practical item at all, since sitting would need to be carefully accomplished. The skirt would want to move up towards the face when pressure was placed on the back as one sat down.  Ashi Studio S/S 2016.
    Sequins are hardly something new.  We have been making them for as long as we have been working metals.  This is a Bronze Age headdress.  It dates between 2400 and 2200 BC. it is composed of fringes made of tiny overlapped gold paillette sequins sewn to cord that ends up looking like a cap of golden hair.  The first sequins and paillettes were of metal, but we have made them of pasteboard coated with metal powder, wood, plastic, and even in a short lived and ill considered iteration, gelatin.  Now of course they are made in an endless array of shapes, sizes, colors and finishes.  But looking at this amazing thing reminds us of where it started.
    I've written often about how menswear is changing. This is another look at that.  Zander Zhou did this ensemble a few years ago. What makes it something other than just another gray and navy outfit is the way the overcoat is handles.  By assembling the coat as a pieced garment with varied textures we get away from the tried and true, while still making this understandable to most people.  The coat becomes an item of significant impact. I could see this technique being employed with other textiles, to create work that would graze the edge of wearable art.
     "I just love finding new ways to wear diamonds".  Thanks, Marilyn.  Here's a kind of jewelry I've certainly never seen before.  This beaded and jeweled sleeve was designed for a Christian Lacroix runway presentation, so it's meant to be an item of fantasy.  But I find the idea intriguing.  It could move into real world usage.  I could imagine simplified versions of this being produced in a mass market way. This also makes me think, again, of how relentlessly we seek the new and the untried.  We keep looking for other options, other ways of adorning ourselves, and by that, other ways of expressing our desires.

    Here's another "why not".  In cultures the world over men have been wearing tunic and skirts, and still do.  The simplicity and comfort of these has made them a practical choice.  As well, they can be equally worn by any sort of body shape and age.  Shorten the length just a bit and these could be great for any time of day.  Sure, they aren't for active pursuits, but for the normal run of the day, what a simple, easy answer.  Such shirt/tunics as these could be made up in any sort of material, making them useful for all climates and needs.  And they could be accessorized to suit the wearer in ways that would keep it individual looking.  I approve.
    Now here is a runway styling item that makes me go, "whut?".  These gauntlets are certainly eye catching.  Utility is clearly not the point here.  Dramatic counterpoint is.  These exist to be in visual opposition to the sharp, clean ensemble of clothing being presented to us.  The complicated texture, and organic feel to them is fascinating to look at.  They would be pretty absurd in real world application.
    This is a Burmese Yantra shirt.   Yantra is a Sanskrit word for a mystical diagram, literally meaning, machine. It's meant to enable meditation.  It's the yogic equivalent to a Buddhist mandala.  This shirt, of plain weave silk has been painted, and inked with several Yantra and other talismans.  The actual purpose of the shirt is unknown though. We can suppose it was meant as an adjunct to meditation, or to teaching the practice of meditation. What this also is, for me, is a wonderful sample of how we merge our other symbolic languages with the language of Attire to give all of them additional meaning.  The Yantra has it's meaning. The text on the shirt has its meaning as well. The shirt alone expresses something. Put them all together, and each element gains in the process.
    Last up this week two detail images of Balmain items from the Fall/Winter 2012 collection.  Apart form the virtuosity of the decoration, what appeals to be here is how the references to biker jackets and leather gear has been melded so perfectly with an embellishment style that evokes the Baroque era. Pale aqua leather, and seashell pink leather have been used here to relay both the lavishness of the Baroque, and the hardness of leather gear.  And sewing these embellished pieces together must have been nightmarish.   As a final note, in some other color, I would love one of these. Jus' sayin'.

I hope you enjoyed this weeks grouping.  Now go have some fun!



  1. Wow - one of the best Scatters ever. I love almost everything here. : )

    (Except the last thing, which makes me want to hurl. Hehe!)

  2. Oh, my! I couldn't figure out what was going on with the "gauntlets" near the end; they looked somehow familiar. I gave them a second look, and they are made of - wigs - turned inside out. Crazy!

    1. I'm so happy you enjoyed this one so much. I often don't see things quite as others do. As to the wig gauntlets, words really do fail.