Antidizionario della Moda

Il primo incontro fu una visione, come ricorda Brassaï nel libro Conversations avec Picasso. Paul Eluard, il poeta surrealista dell’amore totalizzante, vede Maria Benz nel 1930, mentre vagabonda con l’amico René Char in Boulevard Hausmann, poco distante dalle Galeries Lafayette. L’attrice di music-hall e teatro popolare ha ventiquatto anni e indossa un cappello di piume di corvo. Dettaglio che colpisce Eluard e ben delinea il gusto eccentrico nell’abbigliamento, nonostante i mezzi limitati, sviluppato dalla giovane artista negli anni in cui si è esibita al Théâtre du Grand Guignol come ipnotizzatrice.

La figura minuta e la grazia innata nel movimento appartengo a Maria fin dall’infanzia. Con il padre saltimbanco ha attraversato la natia Alsazia, allestendo spettacoli di contorsionismo ed escapologia. Eluard ne è ammaliato. Rivive ciò che André Breton, autore del primo manifesto del Surrealismo, racconta nel romanzo Nadja: l’apparizione improvvisa di una donna come un avvenimento magico, quasi esoterico, nella vita di un uomo. Da quell’istante, Maria Benz diventa semplicemente Nusch; la donna che Eluard cercava disperatamente, dopo quindici anni di matrimonio, dopo esser stato abbandonato da Gala per Salvador Dalì.

Nusch è l’esatto opposto della colta e algida prima moglie. Allergica alle convenzioni, più per entusiasmo verso la vita che per ribellione, non conosce la gelosia, unisce all’innocenza del desiderio un’apertura mentale e di relazioni che per Eluard sarà fonte d’ispirazione per i suoi poemi La Vie immédiate (1932) e Les Yeux fertiles (1936). La sensibilità di Nusch è tutta istinto, non ha la cultura di Gala, ma sa riconoscere l’eccezionalità di ciò che la circonda e subito si sintonizza con il gruppo di amici che dividono ogni istante della vita della coppia: Man Ray, Picasso, Dora Maar, Leonora Carrington, Jean Cocteau e Lee Miller. Picasso l’adora; gli ricorda i suoi saltimbanchi del periodo rosa. La ritrae più volte, catturando le diverse anime di Nusch. Delicata e ambigua, quasi una bambina, con fiocco nei capelli nel 1934 oppure radiosa e sicura, vestita Elsa Schiaparelli e con due broches di Jean Schlumberger nel 1937. Sempre riconoscibile, anche grazie a un suo segno distintivo estremamente femminile: il disegno perfetto, da diva, delle sopracciglia. Nusch ama la moda, apprezza la teatralità delle collezioni di Elsa Schiaparelli che in quel momento collabora con i Surrealisti. Alterna i preziosi abiti da sera della grande stilista a completi maschili. Non mancano mai sulle sue mani, dalle unghie sempre smaltate di rosso, importanti anelli in vetro dalle forme geometriche. Nusch diventa una delle clienti più fedeli di Schiaparelli. Man Ray la ritrae per Harper’s Bazaar nel 1935, un anno dopo il matrimonio con Eluard, mentre indossa un abito sari della collezione Stop, Look and Listen. Tra le mani tiene un piccolo vanity case a forma d’uovo e il profilo del volto si riflette in un ventaglio a forma di foglia. Due anni più tardi, sempre Man Ray esegue un disegno dedicato a Nusch per la raccolta di poesie Les Mains libres in cui una mano tiene una rosa. Proprio questo dettaglio ispirerà Elsa Schiaparelli per la creazione di alcune spille della collezione primaverile del 1938. Nusch nel frattempo è diventata l’icona e la modella ideale degli artisti che frequenta. Oltre a Man Ray, anche Dora Maar e Lee Miller ritraggono il suo volto enigmatico e il suo corpo dal fascino adolescente. Dopo aver trovato posto nel Pantheon delle grandi figure femminili dei Surrealisti, Nusch muore prematuramente per un’emorragia celebrale nel 1946. Per il poeta si apre nuovamente il baratro. Lo stesso anno, Eluard scrive Le temps déborde. Sebbene non si tratti di un omaggio alla compagna da poco scomparsa, tra le pagine, accanto alla poesia L’extase c’è un bellissimo ritratto di Nusch scattato da Dora Maar nel 1934. In due pagine, il racconto di una vita.

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Nusch Eluard
NUSCH ELUARD
Nusch Eluard wearing a Sari-dress by Elsa Schiaparelli, Man Ray, 1935 (courtesy Harper’s Bazaar archive)
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NUSCH ELUARD

Nusch Eluard wearing a Sari-dress by Elsa Schiaparelli, Man Ray, 1935 (courtesy Harper’s Bazaar archive)

NUSCH ELUARD
Hommage à Nusch, Man Ray, 1937
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NUSCH ELUARD

Hommage à Nusch, Man Ray, 1937

NUSCH ELUARD
Brooch – Elsa Schiaparelli – 1937-38 (Leslie Chin Collection)
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NUSCH ELUARD

Brooch – Elsa Schiaparelli – 1937-38 (Leslie Chin Collection)

(Fonte: antidizionariodellamoda)

NUSCH ELUARD
Portrait de Nusch Eluard, Pablo Picasso, 1937
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NUSCH ELUARD

Portrait de Nusch Eluard, Pablo Picasso, 1937

(Fonte: antidizionariodellamoda)

In Britain until about 1890, a typical shoe factory consisted simply of a room for cutting out leather, and a shipping room. The process of production was carried on almost entirely in the homes or workshops of the craftsmen, who worked by hand. After the leather had been cut to shape in the factory, the first stage of making a pair of shoes was for the craftsman who formed and sewed the uppers to collect the cut leather from the factory. When he had fitted and stitched them, he returned them to the factory, whence the man who joined the uppers to the sole came to collect them, with the sole leather. He in his turn, having completed his work, returned them to the factory, from where they were given out again to be trimmed and finished before they were returned to the factory for the last time to be packed up for despatch to the shops. All this changed after 1890, when British shoe manufacturers started to install the new, American-designed shoe making machinery in their factories; craftsmen were employed increasingly as machine operatives within the factories and within twenty years the old putting-out system had disappeared. At the same time as this was happening, the manufacturers were tending to specialize. As the American Government official who investigated the British shoe making industry in 1911 reported: “Some English manufacturers are tending towards specialization. Factories where formerly almost everything in footwear was manufactured have either discontinued some of the lines and are directing their energies toward perfecting the one or two continued to have divided the production of the numerous lines into different departments with separate supervision and management. Owners of some recently established factories confine the output of their plants to a certain class, grade or line of footwear.” (Adrian Forty, DESIGN AND MECHANIZATION: THE STANDARDIZED PRODUCT in HISTORY OF INDUSTRIAL DESIGN vol. II, pag. 52)

Maggio 11
Fashion design and mechanization (part 1)
FASHION DESIGN AND MECHANIZATION
Catalogue of shoe patterns by Joseph Williams, 1866 - courtesy Northampton Central Museum
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FASHION DESIGN AND MECHANIZATION

Catalogue of shoe patterns by Joseph Williams, 1866 - courtesy Northampton Central Museum

FASHION DESIGN AND MECHANIZATION
"True form" machine for the lasting of shoes in the Sears factory, ca. 1930 - courtesy Northampton Central Museum
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FASHION DESIGN AND MECHANIZATION

"True form" machine for the lasting of shoes in the Sears factory, ca. 1930 - courtesy Northampton Central Museum

FASHION DESIGN AND MECHANIZATION
Catalogue of Parker & Booth, ca. 1930 - courtesy Northampton Central Museum
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FASHION DESIGN AND MECHANIZATION

Catalogue of Parker & Booth, ca. 1930 - courtesy Northampton Central Museum

In the early 1970s lead singer Richard Hell, during a performance of his band, The New York Dolls, wears a white T-shirt with the words “Please kill me” written on it with a black marker and a nervous, almost childish handwriting. His manager Malcom McLaren, like many other young people in the years after the protests of 1968, can’t stand the ideological militancy. However he believes in the slogan, screamed out, without barriers of any kind, even performed by means of powerful images. In 1976 Malcom and his partner Vivienne Westwood take some basic garments, deconstruct them and put them together again in a revolutionary way: unfinished hems, worn or torn fabric, visible internal seams. But above all, they make use of iconoclastic collages. On an irregular grey striped background pattern – a terrible reminder about the ghosts of World War II – they put writings such as “Only anarchists are pretty!”, “Chaos”, “Try subversion” overlapping a portrait of Karl Marx made in China and a Third Reich Eagle. On another T-shirt the word DESTROY is printed above three symbols: a reverse crucifix, a swastika and a Queen Elizabeth II one penny stamp. Here words and symbols take on a different meaning. Similarly to Dadaism, the artistic and literary movement that flouted conventional aesthetic and cultural values and with its mottos and short poems wanted to destroy the prevailing standards of art, McLaren and Westwood’s expressions violently overwhelme the fashion system and its pleasing mass messages. The same applies to the T-shirt “I groaned with pain” (1976), on which an excerpt of the novel The School for Wives (1955) by Scottish writer Alexander Trocchi is written. This novel deals with women’s role in society in the 1950s in a sagacious and preposterous manner. It is no coincidence that the fabric has two cuts at the breast. Since then nobody has combined slogans and fashion with the same violence and courage.
Vivienne Westwood has always been concerned with new languages, not surprisingly she designs her Autumn-Winter collection 1983 together with Keith Haring, who makes use of his distinctive writing, characterized by fluidity and symbolism, to combine and mix letters all around his “radiant baby” (akin to the “Wild Boys” by Borroughs) on sweatshirts, sweaters, jackets and pants. Twenty years later two Enfants Terribles, fashion genius Franco Moschino and Jean Paul Gaultier, do something similar, though with less anger and more irony. In 1994, inspired by the famous Eisenhower’s speech on the military-industrial complex (1961), the French fashion designer creates some men’s suits with military-inspired style and colours, but then he covers them with obscene writings, graffiti, tags, and, by doing so, he destroys the iconic personification of the rigorous soldier. This transfiguration of the army is not a question of a pacifist stance but rather it represents Gaultier’s sarcastic and queer revisiting of the stereotypes of masculinity (his marines are well-known) over time.
With his 1995 men’s collection (one of his last collections) Italian fashion designer Franco Moschino revolutionizes men’s wardrobe even more explicitly. Trousers, jackets and shirts appear as a chaotic alternation of some erotic ads taken from pulp fiction magazines and the red writing on a black background “Safe Sex!” which eventually becomes an essential cry of desperation if we just think about the designer’s cruel fate. This is a series of men’s suits that publicly proclaims flamboyant diversity against sex discrimination.
The common thread running through Westwood, Gaultier and Moschino is not the same aesthetic but rather the aptitude for irreverence, which is not easy to have nowadays, and thus for several reasons: many fashion brands are increasingly lumping together into large luxury holding companies, so that they lose autonomy and freedom; global markets get bored quickly and have great difficulty building the emotional components that give luxury status brands their value; and finally the new role given to words, which are now simple decorative signs (to serve as an example Stephen Sprouse’s graffiti for Louis Vuitton). Today in fashion bringing out an awkward narrative is a mission, perhaps already disappeared. (Antidizionario della Moda for ORNOT MAGAZINE - all rights reserved)

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Slogan
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Shirt, Vivienne Westwood and Malcolm McLaren, 1976 (Costume Institute – Metropolitan Museum of Art)
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Shirt, Vivienne Westwood and Malcolm McLaren, 1976 (Costume Institute – Metropolitan Museum of Art)

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Shirt (details), Vivienne Westwood and Malcolm McLaren, 1976 (Costume Institute – Metropolitan Museum of Art)
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Shirt (details), Vivienne Westwood and Malcolm McLaren, 1976 (Costume Institute – Metropolitan Museum of Art)

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“I groaned”, Vivienne Westwood, 1976 (Costume Institute – Metropolitan Museum of Art)
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“I groaned”, Vivienne Westwood, 1976 (Costume Institute – Metropolitan Museum of Art)

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“El Diablo”, Vivienne Westwood, Malcolm McLaren and Keith Haring,  1983 (Costume Institute – Metropolitan Museum of Art)
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“El Diablo”, Vivienne Westwood, Malcolm McLaren and Keith Haring, 1983 (Costume Institute – Metropolitan Museum of Art)

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Jean Paul Gaultier, ensemble, 1994 (Costume Institute – Metropolitan Museum of Art)
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Jean Paul Gaultier, ensemble, 1994 (Costume Institute – Metropolitan Museum of Art)