Sunday, July 31, 2016

Scatter #112

    A Scatter post is a wonderful thing.  I get to share a whole bunch of stuff with y'all, AND I get to clear out my ever enlarging bank of images gleaned from the far reaches of the internet.

    I'm going to begin today with this coat form Vector.  This is exactly the sort of menswear experimentation I fully approve of.  It takes a known form, the trench coat, and shifts its silhouette a bit.  I love that it has a pleasing arc shape to the shoulder and sleeve line, rather than the standard strong square shoulder that is the menswear go to.  The sleeve detail is interesting without being ridiculous.  And the padding not only supports the finished structure, but gives us a clear understanding of function. Finally, it is an interesting bridge point between formality and relaxation.  The firm structure feels formal, but the rounded lines and the easy way it is belted feel casual.  A good effort at finding a new manner of men's dress.
    Oddly, one of the most profound innovations to come from the 1960s and 70s was the printed tee.  Whoever was the smart apple who conceived it I'm sure had no idea how it would eventually develop.  At first it was a method of promotion, but soon, as here, it became a way to express personal preferences with regard to music, art, politics and religion.  Now it is an artform of its own within the Attire language, with endless numbers of limited edition art shirts being created daily and available on line through numerous sources.  The possibilities of what can be expressed go from the most bald faced written remarks to the most esoteric imagery.  Simple to construct, inexpensive to purchase and wearable by literally anyone it has quickly become a universally used word within the lexicon of Attire.  Amazing.
    Before the advent of the kind of menswear tailoring that we now consider normal fit for the garments closest to the body was largely achieved by drawstrings.  This is an article that is part of the Los Angeles County Museum of Art's collection, a linen set of drawers with what amounts to a corset built into its structure.  You can just make out the boning channels in the wide waistband.  It was entirely common for a gentleman's waistcoat to have its fit adjusted by multiple ties, and as we see here, not unknown for the same to be true of his underclothes.  As a side note, corseting for men was well known and widely practiced from roughly the mid 1700s throughout all of the 1800s.
    The Queen was an immensely popular fashion a living magazine the 1800s.  This image from the January 1874 edition shows the latest thing in ball gowns.  As mechanization proceeded to gain ground it became important to those interested in maintaining class distinctions that their apparel loudly express their wealth and status.  So, not only did clothing become more complex, but the amount and variety of applied decoration went up and over the roof tops.  No one seeing a woman dressed this way would imagine anything else than that she had an army of servants to help her dress and maintain her wardrobe.  As a practical matter, a gown like this would be rarely cleaned, and it it absolutely had to be fully laundered, all the trimmings would be taken from it first, cleaned separately and reattached when the dress body was tended to.  Silk flowers can be cleaned of dust by placing them in a bag with some corn meal and giving them a vigorous shake.  Lace was commonly cleaned by being immersed in milk, and then rinsed.
    In 2014 Kean Etro did a collection of deconstructed menswear that brought the interior makings of clothes to the surface.  When we hear about how much more complex menswear is than women's clothing this image explains a good deal of why.  A common suit jacket has upwards of 5 layers of differing materials involved, and numerous precise construction techniques.  Even an inexpensive suit is a complicated process.  Only at the highest levels of construction do women's clothes get to this level of complexity.
    This is a Stephen Burrows design from about 1971.  I love the interaction of the various patterns, and the brilliance of the colors.  It's really a textbook example of what is possible to achieve through the effective usage of patterned textiles.  A great deal of the energy and impact of this article is about the very careful placement of each of the three fabrics. Sure, a goodly portion is due to the intense nature of the colors, but if the striped fabrics in particular were positioned differently this might be an epic fail.  Try to imagine the materials used differently, and see what I mean.
    These three outfits are from a company called Engineered Garments.  Leaving aside the very silly pointy hat, the rest of these are all entirely understandable, and useful parts of a reasoned apparel statement.  Everything here could be put to extensive use in a wardrobe, which is I am certain the designer's prime point.  Clothes that work for real life.  While nothing here is especially innovative, they merge seamlessly into the contemporary mindset of how a great number of us want to dress:  simple, casual and comfortable.  As well all these pieces could be just as effectively made up in other textiles.  Using pattern with some of these would broaden the scope of their utility greatly.
     I'd like you to meet the Marquesa de Pantejos. She was painted by Francisco de Goya in this charming outfit in 1786.  What she has on is an interesting variant of the polonaise dress that had become so fashionable.  In a typical polonaise the overskirt of the gown is lifted in three gathers; one on each side, and one in the rear.  This dress is called a round gown, because it has no center front split in the skirt.  The gathers have been carried fully around the body of the skirt, allowing the lower half of the densely pleated underskirt to be on view. It is such an unusual garment for its time it could almost be fancy dress for a masque, but the pose, the accessories and the seeming location all argue that this was meant as summer outdoor dress for the Marquesa.
    This is one of those times when a garment is a perfect synthesis.  The weight and hand of the textile, the scale, colors and pattern of that material, and the cut of the coat all combine perfectly.  No aspect of this is over or under considered.   When a piece of clothing is this balanced in every area it becomes something more than simply an article of clothing.  It becomes artful in the best sense of that word.  Even the circular, and arcing lines in the huge paisley contribute to the whole.  There is a sense of pleasant undulating motion as you look at this.  I love when this happens.
    This style of hat is called a Bergere. It is defined by a number of things.  It is typically made of straw, has a completely flat rigid wide brim, and a very shallow flat crown.  This one is from Williamsburg, Virginia, and was made up in the later 1700s when this sort of hat was very popular.  The lady who wore this must have been a woman of means, because it is covered completely in silk and very fine silk ribbon which of course had to be imported from Europe.  They were popular for two reasons. First was their utility, and second was how flattering they were to nearly everyone.  This one is charm made physical.
    The instant I saw this image I found myself being drawn in by the coat the model is wearing.  Robe? Costume piece? Outer wear?  Who can say? It reminds me of the banyan style chamber robes that were so popular for gentlemen from the 1700s to the later 1800s.  What is of particular interest to me is those enormous turn backs at the sleeves that look as though they would fall forward to conceal the hands. Also the way the sleeve juts upwards at the shoulder point is intriguing.  I would love to see more images of this, but as yet haven't found any.  And okay, yes, I admit it, he is gorgeous.
    And for the last in the line up this week a truly remarkable piece of jewelry from the ateliers of Louis Comfort Tiffany.  This hair ornament is one of three that were made for the Louisiana Purchase Exhibition in Saint Louis in 1904.  Tiffany made three different pieces each depicting Queen Anne's Lace in various stages of bloom.  This piece is composed of delicate silver wires bearing tiny opals, demantoid garnets, garnets, and enamel florets, showing the flower in full bloom.  In total the materials are gold, silver, platinum, black opals, boulder opals, demantoid garnets, rubies and enamel. to give you a sense of how finely worked this is, it is only 3 1/4 inches tall.

Well, that's the lot for this week's edition of Scatter.  Have fun today!

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