One of the most interesting aspects about the Métissages is that each juxtaposition reminds and follows a very peculiar path, starting from different investigations on adornment and identity , testifying the recurring of forms and their collisions.
The métissage I want you to “read” hereby has its origin in the Elizabethan era: in this collection from Alexander McQueen designed by Sarah Burton, a “contemporary” girdle is embroidered and studded with pearls, recalling the splendour of Elizabethan portraits, enriched by a delicate lace ruffle, enhancing that typical Tudor crossed and studded pattern which flourished during the reing of Astrea, the Virgin Queen.
The same studded intersection is the main ornamental motif of Raïssa Bump’s brooch, in which all the renaissance elements are concentrated in little small Tudor world: and the shape itself of the brooch, according to me, reminds to those velvety gowns, richly emboidered with pearls (cherished jewels for Queen Elizabeth, loved for their lunar light as they symbolized purity), both an armour and a medium of seduction, representing, a that time, the social status and the identity of the wearer and, nowadays, created for a new contemporary Astrea.
For Queen Elizabeth Tudor as Astrea see: Frances A. Yates, Astraea. The Imperial Theme in the Sixteenth Century, Routlege and Kegan Paul, London, 1975 (tr. it. Frances A. yates, Astrea. L’idea di Impero nel Cinquecento, Einaudi, Torino 1978).
Fashion always referred to Art as source of inspiration: hommages to artists and painters are a long leit-motiv during history of fashion…and, in some fortunate cases, this fascination for arts gave us such memorable creative marriages like the one of Elsa “Schiap” Schiaparelli and Salvador Dalì.
Their collaboration, starting from the early 1937, reached its maximum with the fall-winter collection 1938-1939 with some greatest pieces as The Lobster Dress, The Tears Dress, The Skeleton Dress and The Shoe Hat.
That unconventional eye on fashion was really a shock, not only because Schiap was convinced that “in difficult times, fashions is always outrageous”, but also because that surrealist twist launched the idea of the concept of “wereable art”. Schiaparelli’s collaborations included Jean Cocteau, Leonor Fini and Alberto Giacometti and no wonder that Coco, at that time, called Schiap as “the artist that makes clothes”. By the way, both Schiap and Coco were the only two who ruled Paris fashion stage at that time, but that outrageous eye gave such a twist …and a breath of surrealism broke the air.
Nowadays, when the House of Schiaparelli is finally on stage providing us memorable haute couture runways, it’s nice to see how that fil-rouge, created and wanted by the founder, still emerges from the fabrics and creations just to take place on mesmerizing sequined shoulders or in elegant details that recall the memory of things.
To me, of course, this subterranean river made of details wisely sprinkled all over creations is a feast for my eyes and a delight for my memory’s drawers: how pleasing is when you can easily detect all those interconnected inputs you have in your mind that are waiting for you, as a long path made of tiny little pebbles?
But, far from this enchantment, one thing is noticeable: more often (as my wise friend P. says) fashion is becoming reinterpretation, without any room for creativity itself. So, I ask myself: when fashion imitates Art, or borrows some specific peculiarities from it…is still “creation” or a lack of it? Moreover: do you think that nowadays, such imaginative collaborations as the one of Schiap and Dalì are still possibile….? is there yet an absolute outrageous eye?
“A dress [a jewel too!] has no life of its own unless it is worn, and soon as it happens another personality takes over from you and animates it, or tries to, glorifies or destroys it, or makes it into a song of beauty“ Elsa Schiap
Elsa Schiaparelli, Shocking Life: The Autobiography of Elsa Schiaparelli, V&A ed.;
Emma Baxter-Wright, The Little book of Schiaparelli, Carlton ed. 2012;
Judith Watt, Vogue on: Elsa Schiaparelli, Quadrille ed. 2012;
Andrew Bolton- Harold Koda, Schiaparelli and Prada. Impossible conversations; Exhbition catalogue, Met Museum, 2012;
Marisa Schiaparelli Berenson, Schiaparelli’s Album, Thames & Hudson, 2014.
Meryle Secrest, Elsa Schiaparelli: A biography, Fig Tree ed. 2014;