I'm still trying to plan a trip southward to visit the LAMCA exhibit Fashioning Fashion. In the mean time, the LAMCA website offers in interactive web game, using a party invitation to show different modes of dress, complete with lusciously detailed closeups. Play along here.
Yesterday's post about Laura Laine was quick and on-the-go, but what I really wanted to do was point out how much her work reminds me of art Nouveau illustrator Aubrey Beardsley. Laine's work, like Beardsley's, emphasizes darkly exaggerated movement and expression, and elongated figures.
With 100 years between them, Laine and Beardsley could be illustration soul-mates. And I mean that in the nicest way.
Laura Laine is a Helsinki based illustrator. She has studied fashion design at University of Art and Design Helsinki, but during her studies focused on fashion illustration. After completing her studies she has been working full-time as a freelace illustrator and is also teaching fashion illustration at the university.
Her recent clients include Zara, Rad Hourani, The New York Times T magazine, Tommy Hilfiger, Elle Girl, Muse magazine, The Guardian, I.T Post magazine, Iben Hoej, and Daniel Palillo. She has also exhibited in San Francisco and Los Angeles.
Something that visitors to a museum may not stop to consider are the structures underneath that support the weight of the potentially fragile fabric and structure of the garment. While reading the article, one thing that stood out to me immediately was this statement about the museum's mannequins:
We have male and female mannequins that were built to represent each dramatic change in the fashionable silhouette from the eighteenth through early twentieth centuries. For women, corsets, crinolines, and bustles dictated not only idealized waist-to-hip ratios, but also posture and whether “fat” was pushed up, down, in, or out.
Fashion designers have always created with an idealized figure in mind, and that ideal changes over time, right along with popular culture such as music and art, and the celebrities themselves. Before there were cameras, the celebrities of the day had the trendiest dresses made, and sat to have their portraits painted. Two hundres years ago, the fashionable silhouette was an Empire waist, which required not much structural alteration fo a woman's own figure. Fast forward fifty years, and in order to have the fashionable silhouette, a woman needed a tightly corseted waist and layers of pouffy crinolines. In the Twentieth Century, a similar timeline followed - Edwardian era fashion required a columnar silhouette with a more relaxed waistline, and Mid-Century gave us the New Look, with a girdle cinching the waist and again, the full skirted hourglass silhouette.
Today, instead of having portraits painted, celebutante wanna-be's put on the trendiest clothing and handbags, and dash about town to be photographed by paparazzi and end up on TMZ. We no longer have corsets or girdles, but there are waist-slimming spandex undergarments and fad fasts and diets. And don't forget the current epidemic of figure mutilating cosmetic surgeries. Many today would shudder at the idea that Victorian women had ribs removed to achieve the wasp waist (even if no such thing actually happened) but think nothing of liposuction or breast augmentation. All in the pursuit of the fashionable silhouette.
Our friend from the Vintage Fashion Guild, secondlooks, has had the good fortune to find a rare pair of vintage sunglasses by Italian fashion designer Elsa Schiaparelli.
Click on the photo for details:
Schiaparelli applied some of the shock and whimsy of her surrealist friends Salvador Dali and Jean Cocteau to her clothing and accessories designs, and was one of the first designers to launch an eyewear collection.
Her infamously flamboyant 1951 "eyelash" glasses created confusion and scandal in fashion circles.
Ms. Schiaparelli constantly pushed the boundaries of convention with her unabashed use of bright colors, appliqued and embroidered artist designs on couture gowns, and surrealist hats. Her ideas of fashion as artwork have influenced designers well into this new century.
Sometimes we stumble across greatness purely by accident, and it was in this way that I discovered photographer Evelyn Hofer. I was looking for photos of jewelry by the artist Alexander Calder, when I found this photo of then model Angelica Houston wearing a Calder necklace:
Angelica Houston wearing Alexander Calder necklace, 1976
It's an amazing piece, worn by a strikingly beautiful Houston, so I didn't really notice how carefully controlled the composition was until I decided by chance to research the credited photographer.
Hofer died just last year, and was a little known but very much
respected portrait and travel photographer who had a painter's
meticulous eye for patient composition.
Her early stints as fashion photographer were short, and though she obviously had a gift for capturing the quiet essence of her subjects, it became clear that fashion was not where her creative talents were best suited.
"I worked for Harper's Bazaar and Alexey Brodovich, but he very soon
gave up any attempt to make me into a fashion photographer," Hofer
explains. "He didn't think I had any talent for it and I agreed."
However, she did continue to accept fashion assignments, including Harper's and Vogue, throughout her career
These editorial photos from Harper's Bazaar, using painted backdrops, show the exacting attention to detail for which Ms. Hofer would become known as a portraitist and architectural photographer.
"She is after the essence of things, whether it's a chair or a human
being. She was never trying to do what was in fashion or trendy. She
always intended to find her own way of doing things." - Hofer's assistant Andreas Pauly.
Harlem Church, 1964
Three Girls from Dublin, 1966
Four Young Men, Washington, 1975
Read more about Evelyn Hofer in the 2005 artist monograph, published by Steidl.
Bassman's vision carried the emotion of womanhood, rather than just the visual image of it. When she photographed lingerie for Warners or Olga, the viewer was invited into the intimate serenity of the dressing room and the photo was not about an undergarment, it was about the introspective moment before a woman is finally dressed.
Bassman worked as a photographer and art director at Harpers Bazaar for more than 20 years. Her fashion photography often pushed the boundaries from representation to abstraction through dramatic lighting, often diagonal composition, and then darkroom manipulation.
At the age of 92, and after having in the 60s destroyed much of her earlier work, Ms. Bassman is currently reinterpreting and re-printing her fashion photos with the use of darkroom and manual manipulation, and photoshop. So it's most likely that the images shown here are not as they were originally printed, but as Ms. Bassman herself interprets them decades after they were created. No matter. They remain beautiful, original and iconic.
Via the magic that is Twitter, I followed a few breadcrumbs to discover multi-faceted Vancouver artist Nicole Dextras, whose photography and sculptural art are something that I could spend hours enjoying. And since I simply hate art reviews, because words are so inadequate to describe the visceral and emotional aspects of art, I'm just sharing this with you and letting the visuals and links speak for themselves.
Missouri high school senior Aimee Kick certainly didn't have to worry that anyone else would show up to her prom wearing the same dress. She made her own. Out of coffee filters.
This is a wonderful idea, not only because it keeps yet another student out of the mall, but if she stays out all night she has a head start on that satisfying morning cup-o-joe. Seriously creative! I can't wait to see more artful apparel from Ms. Kick. Read the full story.