LEONOR Fini, the avant-garde artist who Christian Dior exhibited in the gallery he ran in early 1930s France, before becoming a Fashion designer, is the inspiration behind his label’s current haute couture collection.
Surrealism and the dreams of women are appropriate for Dior’s new Maestra, Maria Grazia Chiuri’s 2018 Spring designs. Chiuri is said to be fascinated by how Fini used clothes and extravagant headdresses to “produce” her identity.
“She used her image to be regal and powerful. Surrealism speaks about dreams and the unconscious, and often about women’s bodies. It’s very close to fashion,” Chiuri tells us.
She is using Surrealist symbolism—the black-and-white checkerboard runway, and the bird cages and faux plaster casts suspended over it, to frame her collection. Stephen Jones delicate eye masks are in homage to Peggy Guggenheim. Guggenheim also exhibited Fini in her 1943 show, ‘Exhibition of 31 Women Artists.’
Speaking of the difficulty women have to be taken seriously, Chiuri comments on why solemn black is chosen by designers and the MeToo campaigners. However her feminism allows her to move on, “We have to think about dreaming,” she suggests. “In a way, it [haute couture] is our business. But if you never dream, you don’t think that something negative can change.”
PAOLO Riversi believes that ‘photography is the revelation of another dimension’. His skills at devising a myriad of shots over decades is celebrated during an exhibition in Milan today.
“I am not interested in the everyday or the commonplace. They carry no emotions for me,” Roversi ‘master of the dreamy, the fantastic and the ethereal,’ tells The Business ofFashion.
“Paolo Roversi, Stories” is the main exhibition in the stunning Appartamenti del Principe on the top floor of Milan’s Palazzo Reale for the Vogue Photo Festival, curated by Alessia Glaviano, current photo editor of Italian Vogue
Among the intricate tapestries, gilded stuccoes and marble floors, are photographic selections, including a full series of unpublished portraits of Rihanna, outtakes from an album cover shoot.
Whether the styling is eclectic, decadent, or divine the focus is always the face.
If for Fashion or the Music industry Roversi wants each carefully crafted image to tell a story.
“It is about fantasy, fabric, invention. In order to work, however, a fashion photograph must function in two ways: it has to be the portrait of a woman wearing a dress, but also the portrait of a dress worn by a woman.”
Vivienne Westwood interpreting her own creations, discussing her own work, explains, “The silhouette looks like an ant on stilts, the head comes out looking more important, and with the shoes, forming a pedestal to give particular power and expression to the most erotic part of the person, the face.”
The Fashion geniuses Roversi and Westwood are artists who pay homage to the Renaissance painters whose portraits make up the stories of earlier lives, loves and eternal emotions.
SOMETIMES a look is so subtly suggestive of a label’s legend that it’s difficult to spot the brand at first. Not this time, however! Even dressing transparently leaves no room for doubt. This can’t be anything but Chanel!
From the label’s 2018 Spring collection, the hat reflects designs based on simple styles and shapes from housekeepers, nannies and nurses uniforms of the times. Gabrielle Chanel saw the looks as more chic and flattering than the fussy overdecorated chapeaux worn by 1920s middle class conventional women.
Chanel experimented with textiles. Using transparent plastics and acrylics echoes the founder’s practice. Tweedy texture of the jacket continues a tradition based on Coco’s connections to English and Scottish aristocrats.
I love the way Lagerfeld and his team enchant us with new ways of seeing Fashion without losing sight of their original inspirations.
MY all time favourite jeans are Fioruccis! And guess what? The original need-to-know brand is back. Founded by Elio Fiorucci in 1965, it’s now reinvented, with its elegant intellectual property up for grabs!
I love it so much I needed to find out about blue denim. I knew it was everywhere and full of meaning. Jeans began as work-wear in Europe; ‘bleu de Genes,’ the blue of Genoa in Italy and denim from de Nîmes in France, trousers worn by 17th and 18th century soldiers and workmen.
When Karl Marx, political economist and first human interest journalist, was formulating his theories about emerging groups in cities, Levi Strauss was making jeans for the Wild West workforce in America.
Denim is the most significant Fashion story of the last seven decades. Designers cannot make a move or invent a look without considering how to include the beautiful blue in their collections.
So important a trend is denim that there are an infinite number of blog posts on the topic. John Fiske’s the ‘The Jeaning of America’ should compete with the bible as a Desert Island Discs book choice!
There’s even a dedicated education site with a book by Thomas Stege Bojer ‘Blue Blooded,’ with ‘everything you need—and want—to know about jeans.’ His intention is to keep retailers on target, knowing the whole process and being in touch with teams of influencers and bloggers through his sites.
When jeans are assigned to specific labels, manufacturers are able to compete with other makes in the market place. The social identities, the designers define, become the signature look of the clothes. Designer jeans speak to market segmentation and social difference; they move away from the shared values, away from nature, toward culture and its complexities.
No one can ignore the phenonomen and Georgio Armani is no exception. A significant change is happening at the privately held multi-billion-dollar Italian firm still run by its 83-year-old founder, who launched the business 42 years ago. Its restructuring aims to streamline Armani around three distinct labels.
Giorgio Armani Privé (ready-to-wear and couture) and Armani/Casa (home goods) now lives under the Giorgio Armani ombrello. Emporio Armani, more democratic ready-to-wear, will include Armani Collezioni and the pricier elements of Armani Jeans. A|X Armani Exchange, which competes with specialty retailers and fast-fashion purveyors alike in terms of price, will also sell denim. The dreams of Genoa continue!
I’m not a cougar but Christopher Breward’s latest book celebrating the glorious and everyday charms of ‘The Suit,’ makes me see how a predatory woman might feel!
On many of the pages I fall in love again and again!
Breward sets the suit in its commanding history as an important marker inspiring new ways of looking at the power-hungry, the lover, the elegant, through their lives at home, in trade, on travel and in the movies.
The suit has survived hardly modified over generations, worn by men and women, ‘politicians, estate agents, bankers, rabbis, courtroom defendants, wedding grooms’.
The author’s own wedding outfit, now in the V&A, was worn for a civil partnership ceremony with James Brook on 18 August 2006. Christopher’s from Kilgour on Saville Row with Jasper Conran shirt, while James’ tailored wool-blend pinstripe by Timothy Everest, for Marks and Spencer are included in the museum’s collections, reflecting the suit’s enduring appeal.
Taking his lead from Adolf Loos, the Modernist ‘suitophile’ who compared the garment to a classical temple, Breward considers its form, function and style across the decades. Thinking ‘the smart flashiness of the soldier’s get-up takes us only so far in understanding the evolution of the modern suit,’ he encourages us to consider the dinginess of English cities when ‘darkness inevitably rubbed off on the man’s suit and its status in everyday life.’
Romping through the centuries he notes how working men’s solid woollen jackets and trousers stood for stronger values than a nineteenth century clerk’s off-the-peg garb, although it it did represent technological advances.
Turning to advice given for successful dressing, he shows how pundits had often suggested conservative, appropriate, two pieces to make a statement, as novel alternative modes of dress were appearing. In the midst of the flowery Hippies in the 70s and Punk-Goths in the 80s, the monochrome model survived in the service of industry and commerce.
When nepotism and old school ties were superseded by strategic and technological brilliance, as open routes to lucrative City jobs, the suit became more valuable than ever as a leveller in the market place. Men’s retailers know that the price of a suit is geared to match exactly a week’s wage. So from the 80s on, from the high street to Savile Row, customers would be spending between £2,000 and £10,000 to be kitted out.
When the global crash came in 2008, it had been heralded by informal dress into the worlds of banking and high finance in the 90s and 2000s; seeming to reflect immorality and the rise of greed. Disgraced workers were seen leaving their offices uniformly wearing pastel sportswear on television news channels!
City slickers and bar bound lawyers insist the suit is a sign of distinction and power in the professions despite calls to dress down or man-up for our digital age. Breward, now a tweeds and jeans-wearing academic, hopes the suit will persist for hundreds more years; for as long as the civilised values it represents are around.
Fashion’s power probably reached its zenith when Kate Middleton married the heir to the British dynastic throne of the United Kingdom in April 2011. Prince William had fallen in love with her, it is said, as she paraded down the catwalk at a charity Fashion show in their shared university town of St. Andrew’s, near Edinburgh, in Scotland. The signs of the harem had transmitted themselves to the virile young royal.
There is a Cinderella quality to this story and clothes played their part towards this happy ending. Not that Kate Middleton had set many fires, or brushed many hearths, but she now rides in glass coaches and wears diamond tiaras.
Her days at boarding school mixing with the Home Counties crowd, and Sloane Rangers set, put her on the right track. She’s an interesting mix of American preppy and English Burberry. Her love of the outdoors means she is…
The last time we can be sure we were glimpsing the idea of fun’s potential seems to have been the 1960s. So now the word is the super signifier for that decade.
Used by Barbara Hulanicki on her ‘Desert Island Discs,’ by Miranda Hart’s fictional mother, often in interviews with Mary Quant; it expresses the possibility of freedom and pleasure.
Fizzing with the excitements left over from the take-up of Modernism, in the 1950s, by the 60s for the first time in history the young had money to spend. Quant, Hulanicki, et al were there waiting for their Art School educations to liberalise the rest and so we began to spend every night, ‘out’!
The moment when it was possible to be having the most fun is surely when Modernism morphed into to its ironic younger sister, the multifaceted, ducking, dodging, diving, diva, post-Modernism.
The revolutionary, tone-setting, Biba brought in well-designed clothes and accessories for a new object-of-desire-hungry demographic.
Brighton Art college graduate Fashion illustrator Barbara Hulanicki opened a mail order clothing company with her husband, Stephen Fitz-Simon. Their Postal Boutique was overwhelmed with orders for a sleeveless gingham shift dress featured in the ‘Daily Mirror.’