There is a great video that illustrates the difference between fantasy and historically accurate costuming. Character development in film and animation is largely controlled by garments. Illustrators and costumers are faced with a challenge of making the character believable and accurate, while still appealing to modern tastes and fashions. Reconciling historical and modern tastes can be a challenge. This is largely due to the fact that ideal beauty changes over the course of time. (New to my site? You should view my previous posts, Movies, Beauty, & Ideal Beauty and A Return to the Ideal.) The video shows Disney characters alongside with what their actual everyday garments would have been. I think each of these looks is great, although I prefer the historically correct versions better. Enjoy!
Monica D. MurgiaArt, creativity, and fashion
Archive for the ‘Fashion and Identity’ Category
After work, I passed by Augusta Auctions preview of tomorrow’s New York sale. Tomorrow at noon, 422 swoon-worthy lots will go on the block. Sometimes people ask me how I amass my personal collection. Once you really delve into a specialty, like American couture or a weak spot for Lanvin-Castillo, you begin to make all kinds of discoveries. Like a vintage store in Houston. Or a kindred spirit with an amazing blog. You start to develop all sorts of relationships when you share your interests with other people. Earlier this year, I took my fashion forecasting class to see the April sale preview offered by Augusta Auctions. I can assure you that if you are a serious fashion collector, this auction is a must attend.
Lot 282: Paco Rabanne Coat & Helmet, c. 1965-67. Image courtesy of Augusta Auctions.
Everyone should attend at least one auction in their life. Bidding on a coveted item is a unique experience. It’s a lot like gambling or playing the stock market. It’s a mix of adrenaline, sweat, fear, and lust. Questions flurry your mind and you only have seconds to make a decision: What if someone outbids you? How much is too much? What is the real or perceived value of the item? Is it a solid investment? Your mind is in overdrive and the auctioneer is crooning to get a higher price. You’re all of the sudden unsure what hurts more, your purse strings or your heartstrings.
Augusta Auctions always has really amazing pieces. Much of this is because they represent museums. Museums have limited storage space. They can only store so many objects safely. New acquisitions and donations mean that space dwindles. Curators can either re-organize the storage environment, or decide to edit the collection. (De-accessioning is when the museum decides to remove items from their collection and sell them on the market.)
Lot 376: 19th Century Matador Cape. Image courtesy of Augusta Auctions.
The de-accessioning process is what makes the auction so fun. There is such a rich variety of objects available for purchase. I was absolutely over the moon for this 19th Century matador cape. It was a faded light sage green satin with gold gilt raised embroidery. While signs of wear were apparent, it was such a beautiful piece.
- Â Do you think that the surrealist movement influences fashion even nowadays?Â
Absolutely.Â Surrealist elements have been incorporated into fashion since the movement started in the 1920s. I’d say it’s heyday for fashion designers and Surrealist collaborations was in the 1930s and 1940s, but it’s impact can be felt since.Â The Postwar interest in Surrealism and fashion was definitely influenced by Wesley Simpson.Â He was a New York textile converter that worked with French artists to create textile designs.Â This was a way for painters to have an expanded market.Â Not everyone can afford an oil painting by someone like Salvador Dali or Rene Magritte.Â But a few yards of fabric designed by the artist was a brilliant way to incorporate art into everyday life, and at a price point that many people could afford.Â I think recent interest in Surrealism and fashion has to do with the insight of curators like Dilys Blum (Philadelphia Museum of Art) as well as Andrew Bolton and Harold Koda (Metropolitan Museum of Art).Â These curators really brought awareness of Surrealism and it’s impact on fashion with the exhibits Shocking! The Art & Fashion of Elsa Schiaparelli and SchiaparelliÂ & Prada: Impossible Conversations, respectively.Â These exhibits allowed a new generation to become familiar with Surrealism.Â After these exhibits opened, there was a clear correlation of Surrealist elements showing up in contemporary fashion design.Â Prada, Philip Treacy, Diane Von Furstenburg – they were just some of the numerous designers that referenced Surrealism in the past 5 years. Â I think that we will continue to see Surrealism impacting fashion because it gives a certain shock value.Â People want to be remembered, and that’s certainly easy if you’re wearing a gigantic lobster on your head.
- Do you think that art will carry on influencing fashion in the future?Â
- Dali has an important influence on the 20th century, do you think Dali is a visionary?
Honestly, I think he was a little crazy :) He famously said things like: “I don’t do drugs. IÂ am drugs.” and “There is only one difference between a madman and me. The madman thinks he is sane. I know I am mad.”Â But perhaps the chaos of his mind was what made him truly innovative.Â He saw and experienced things that others didn’t.Â I supposed that is what makes a visionary.
- Â In your opinion, what would be Schiaparelli fashion house if it would not have been closed in 1954 ?
- You surely heard about that, what do you think of the idea of Diego Della Valle to relaunch Schiaparelli house and give it a second breath?
I have heard this before.Â When I hear about these kinds of things, I try to push it to the back of my mind.Â I like to view collections and exhibitions without any expectations.Â It may be magnificent, it might not.Â I’m sure there will be elements of interest.Â If I had any advice to Diego Della Valle, it would be to read Schiaparelli’s autobiography, Shocking Life.Â If he is interested in relaunching her brand, I hope he takes the time to understand the way in which she perceived things.
Prior to the opening of Punk: Chaos to Couture, there was quite a bit of buzz. Â From what I gathered, a lot of people criticized the exhibition before they even saw it. Â Strong criticism like this make me wary. Â I like to make my own observations first. Â So I was careful not to read anything about the show until I got a chance to take it in myself.
The punk aesthetic can be seen in intentional rips and tears, hardware embellishments, and a sort of disheveled look. Â Leather is always a nice finishing touch, too. Â These two leather pieces really caught my attention.
Ensembles by Balmain, 2011.
The skirt was my favorite part of the look. Â Black and red leather covered in studs, intentionally shredded and pieced back together with safety pins. Â While it has a DIY feel, work like this takes meticulous precision to complete. Â Look at how the safety pins are placed so closely next to one another.
As I moved through the galleries, I was really interested not only the details of the garments, but also how the space of the galleries had changed. Â After noting how the designers distressed and embellished the garments, I focused on the design of the space. Â The museum staff had cleverly used styrofoam which they carved Â with graffiti and tags. Â It was very faint, but visible in this columned gallery.
Wedding Dress by Zandra Rhodes, 1977
I also started to see a correlation to other exhibits I’d see. Â This jersey wedding dress by Zandra Rhodes reminded me a lot of what I had seen at Stephen Burrows: When Fashion Danced. Â Burrows liked to use jersey and finished the edges with a zig zag stitch. Â This kept the silhouette light, and made the edges wavy.
Burrows called this the lettuce edge. Â You can see how Zandra Rhodes used this same technique, but also used int for cut outs in the skirt. Â Punctuated with crystals and chains, the jersey curls and waves around the body. Â It’s attached to the satin bodice with safety pins.
The construction details on this gown reminded me of staples.
Recycling was another theme I loved. Â I think it takes someone really creative to take discards and turn them into something fashionable. Â This part of the exhibit was called Bricolage,Â which is taking random materials to create a work of art. Â Bits of paper, envelopes, trash bags and other discarded objects were whipped up into the most inventive garments. Â Others were made of fabrics treated to look like trash.
Ensemble by John Galliano, 2001.
This ensemble by Galliano is actually cotton twill printed with a newspaper pattern. Â Raffia, lurex, and scotch tape complete the look.
But my favorite room was dedicated to graffiti fashion.
Evening gown by Dolce Gabbana, 2008.
I’m fascinated with graffiti because it reclaims our right to art in daily life. Â Art is generally the first to go with budget cuts in any organization – schools, corporations, the government. Â It’s spontaneous, fun – and often temporary.
Alexander McQueen’s performance dress was on display, too. Â This dress was presented on stage, and the paint was sprayed in real time in front of the audience.
Dress by Alexander McQueen, 1999.
Also on display was this dress by Vivienne Westwood. Â It reminded me of Philip Guston’s later work. Â (Guston was an abstract expressionist painter. Â His later work was very cartoonish. Â Have a look for yourself.)
Dress by Vivienne Westwood, 2007.
Dress by Vivienne Westwood, 2007.
I have to say, I’m glad I didn’t read any of the reviews before I went. Â The DIY themes gave me lots of ideas how I’d like to customize my own wardrobe. Â There will be updates when I get to these projects this summer.
Unless otherwise mentioned, all images courtesy of The Metropolitan Museum of Art.
It’s been an intense week, so things have been quiet on my blog. Â New classes, new students, presentations about The Stieg Collection. Â Everything has been so much fun, but I’ve had little time to write. Â I probably should be grading papers, but I wanted to write a post about my fashion forecasting class.
Much like it sounds, you can predict future fashions and trends if you know what to look for. Â We look at different people, what motivates them to participate in fashion, innovations in textiles, trends in colors, and lots of other things. Â What I like most about teaching this class is that I have to communicate how I see things. Â Last week, I took my class on a field trip to do some trend spotting. Â I have some ideas in my head already that fashion is going to become increasingly inspired by nature.
Even in the city, you can see that people crave nature. Â Plants line storefronts. Â Colorful flowers and shrubs are displayed for purchase. Â Food culture is becoming more focused on natural flavoring, organic produce, and saying “no” to genetically modified organisms.
We also went to Brooklyn Charm, and I noticed a lot of jewelry that took cues from the natural environment. Â Leaves, flowers, gems, crystals, geodes – everything pointed to the great outdoors.
I couldn’t resist! Â I got a few small charms for my own necklace.
I saw some vintage clothing from the neighborhood we observed that had some great references, too. Â I wanted to buy everything, but I was only observing.
Leaves can be dressed up or down!
And you can never go wrong with flowers.
I started to see how people were already wearing this on the street. Â Doesn’t it look sort of like the early 1970s?
My thoughts were confirmed when I saw all the pictures from Coachella! Â New York and California seem to agree some fashion points. Â It’s a flower power revival, don’t you agree?
Batik is such a magical textile. It’s a special way of dyeing cloth. Wax is applied to the surface of a cloth to protect certain areas from the dye bath. The cloth is dyed several times to achieve a rich, artistic surface. It is traditionally done by hand, and takes a very long time. Resistance and Splendor in Javanese Textiles is a small exhibit at the Metropolitan Museum of Art that explores this wax resist dyeing technique.
So, for instance, let’s talk about the sarung above. There are about 4 different dye colors. Before the sarung was dipped in a red dye bath, all of the areas that were going to be a different color had to be covered in wax. The wax prevents the dye from being absorbed in the fabric. The cloth was dried, the wax removed, and the the process was repeated for the other colored dye baths.
Batik is a traditional cloth from Indonesia. There are many studios in Java that have historically produced batik cloth. I wrote a lot about this in graduate school, and always admired how skillfully and artistically the cloth was decorated. Some of my research is actually published in book Encyclopedia of National Dress! The book is available for pre-order on Amazon. My mom (above) attended the show with me. She knows how crazy I am about batik, but she had never seen any in person.
She was mesmerized by the level of detail in the cloth.
One of the other aspects I love about Javanese textiles is that they are spiritual objects. Indonesia has a really rich and diverse religious community, but a large percentage is Hindu and Buddhist. The cloth and how it is made is a representation of the universe (sort of like Tibetan sand mandalas).
The act of making these complex patterns is a sort of meditation. Extreme care and mindfulness are needed, or else the design will not be executed properly. The artists that make these clothes must be fully present in the moment of creating the cloth.
Also, the colors of the dyes are a spiritual reference. The traditional natural dyes indigo, brown, and white represent the Hindu gods Brahma, Vishnu, and Shiva. These three gods are a sacred trinity in Hinduism. Brahma is the creator, Vishnu is the preserver, and Shiva is the destroyer. You can start to see how traditional batik represents the larger idea of the universe, life, and death.
Most of the designs and motifs in batik show scenes from nature. I think this really reinforces the spiritual element of the cloth. It represents the impermanence of life. Life changes. It never stays the same. Everything grows, changes forms, and eventually leaves the earth.
Most Hindu and Buddhist art address these ideas. Art from these spiritual traditions act as meditation tools. They give viewers ways to understand and accept the greater truths and experience of life. But most Buddhist and Hindu art is stationary and stays in one place. Batik can be worn, and serve as a daily reminder of spirituality.
All images courtesy of the Metropolitan Museum of Art. If you liked these images, I’ll be posting more to my Facebook page. Please check it out!
Street style blogs are so great. Â They are great visual chronicles of what’s going on in a specific city or town.Â Â I’m not sure why I haven’t dedicated more posts to admiring other people’s style.
So today, I’m branching out and doing a street style recap. Â Earlier in the week, I saw this stylish gentleman on the train.
I wasn’t too sure about sneaky photo etiquette. Â I really just wanted to “snap and run“, but it seemed sort of rude. Â What would you think if you caught a random stranger taking your picture on the train? Â The word creepy comes to mind…
So I decided to walk over and ask if I could photograph him. Â Thankfully, after fumbling through my explanation of how I blog and what I was doing, Mauricio allowed me to take a few pictures.
So here is what I like about his look:
The outfit is minimalist, which is classic and versatile. Â The pieces are well-cut, crisp, and monochromatic. Â Since the colors are muted, each piece can be mixed and matched in endless ways. Â Minimalist pieces are a great way to expand your wardrobe because each one acts as a building block.
The accessories compliment the look without being overpowering. Â The bag is vintage, which also gives the look a bit of originality. Â Vintage finds are always a nice way to make your look authentic- it’s rare to find the same vintage piece twice!
We only chatted briefly – 3 or 4 stops- but Mauricio recommends the following brands and stores:
Yesterday, I was at the Baum School of Art working on my cataloging project.Â I’ve photographed and created a numbering system for over 100 outfits in the Stieg Collection.Â This is a really important part of creating a fashion archive.Â As I was checking that each garment had the right number, I kept getting distracted by this suit:
And like Dior, Jane’s suit was custom made just for her based off of her measurements.
Historically, haute couture was made to measure and hand sewn for each individual customer. This requires the customer to return for several fittings to perfect the fit of the gown. In France, the term “haute couture” is protected by law under the French Ministry of Industry. Any designers wanting to advertise their garments as haute couture must be members of the Chambre Syndicale de la Haute Couture. Think of it as the couture police. The syndicate ensures each member designs made-to-order for private clients who must have at least one private fitting; has a workshop in Paris with a minimum of 15 full-time employees and presents seasonal collections in Paris that include at least 35 ensembles split between day wear and evening wear. In America, the term couture is not protected by any governing body. Many U.S. based companies use the term couture loosely to promote their brands.Â
“However indebted Robert may have been to Sonia’s more spontaneous and uninhibited expression of color – of she to his years of studying and analyzing form – they both understood their sources quite differently.”Â