It seems a few designers took a page from this book when it came to inspiration, this season.
Images: Vogue.com, Elle.com and WLIFW.
It seems a few designers took a page from this book when it came to inspiration, this season.
Images: Vogue.com, Elle.com and WLIFW.
O, what a noble mind is here o’erthrown!
The courtier’s, scholar’s, soldier’s, eye, tongue, sword,
Th’ expectancy and rose of the fair state,
The glass of fashion and the mould of form,
Th’ observ’d of all observers- quite, quite down!
And I, of ladies most deject and wretched,
That suck’d the honey of his music vows,
Now see that noble and most sovereign reason,
Like sweet bells jangled, out of tune and harsh;
That unmatch’d form and feature of blown youth
Blasted with ecstasy. O, woe is me
T’ have seen what I have seen, see what I see!
-Hamlet, Act III, Scene I
Ophelia, through the brush of Sir John Everett Millais:
Ophelia, through the lens of Mert and Marcus:
Inspiration never fades…
Image sources: Wikipedia, Vogue.com.
The Motherland is a study in stark contrasts.
It is often colourful.
It is sometimes black and white.
It is as rich in its poverty as it is in its wealth.
It is well adorned in its history of embellishment.
It has always conversed with its lush past and argued with its glitzy future.
This surreality is exemplified in a new exhibit at Toronto’s Royal Ontario Museum entitled, Embellished Reality: Indian Painted Photographs, which opens today.
The 60 works from the ROM’s own collection, dating from the 1860s to the Noughties, take what was a relatively new technology at their inception – photography – and blend it with an intricate tradition of painting.
The images depict notable figures, travelling through the markers that a well-lived life brings: marriage, coronation, pilgrimage, travel and status.
The enhancement of black and white photos with colour is not unique to India. What is unique, however, is the way in which paint was used in the embellishment of these photographs. Sometimes, it is hard to see the photograph through the paint that covers it. The ornamentation, the technique does not speak with an ordinary vocabulary. It speaks poetry.
Speaking to an intimate group prior to the exhibition’s opening, the ROM’s Curator of South Asian Visual Culture, Dr. Deepali Dewan explained that the paint was used to elevate the figure depicted within the photographs, to represent them as a higher being, beyond their reality.
These photographs were meant to embellish their worldly self, and make them other-worldly.
The exhibit runs through March, 2012. It will significantly enhance your own visual reality.
Drop by the South Asian gallery while you are there – the ROM has 6,000 South Asian artifacts, spanning 5,000 years – a portion of which can be found in the gallery.
All images courtesy of the Royal Ontario Museum.
When I was at the AGO recently, taking in the last bit of Maharajas and their many baubles, I had a déjà vu of a déjà vu.
When I first visited the exhibition in the Fall, I had seen this wonderful western-style portrait in oil paint, of an elaborately adorned Sadiq Muhammad Abbasi.
I couldn’t help but think of another prince when I saw it – a Bachchan. Mumbai nobility.
Take another glance…
Is it chance that brought us from Bahawalpur to Bombay?
I dare say it was a visual dance – a romance – of adornment.
Images of portrait courtesy of Victoria & Albert Museum. Bachchan images courtesy of Wikipedia.
That blue is back again.
You know the one – you wore it years ago, for that pop of colour – back when pop music was heard on the spirit of radio?
I opted for electric blue when fluorescent colours were all the rage back then. It was under the radar, over ultra-glow, neon yellows, pinks, oranges and greens. I had electric blue socks and an over-sized, handknit mohair cardi in the same hue. I always wore it with black.
Call it brilliant blue, electric blue, cerulean, azure or phthalo - it’s back with a vibrant vengeance.
I’ve been collecting these images for several seasons now. At first, there were random outbursts of colour…but collections for Spring and Fall 2011 are saturated in blue notes – from couture to common, everyday fashion.
These are not your mother’s blues, my dears. These are make-an-entrance, knock-em-dead outfits that will have reds blushing.
Look what the wind blue in – can you imagine these next two on a breezy day? (Note, I didn’t say windy – a subtle breeze is all we want.)
Or you can create your own movement and express yourself…
…the Expressionists certainly did.
Whether in a painting or at a dance, these rich shades and fabrics will have you panting for more.
The shades from season to season vary slightly, but there is a boldness in each blue.
I was obsessed with phthalo blue in my art school years – it had a depth and transparency all at once. Currently, I am obsessed with this gorgeous gown from Bibhu Mohapatra, which to me, exhibits the same qualities – it’s just frothy enough and yet solid in that impeccable neckline and romantic in that empire waistline. I would love to wear this to an art opening, to bring the phthalo full circle.
Even if it’s a darker blue like navy or midnight, it’s a change from the LBD for evening.
It’s also a great way to add a little flair to your day.
I love how the suit has returned, but in what I call Suit 2.0 – the more social, interactive suit – it allows a girl to move. This shade will also make you stand out in the corporate hierarchy.
And quite frankly, also at fashion fêtes the world over – because everyone else will be wearing buh-lack.
Imagine this on a dreary and rainy day.
In this Rachel Roy, you can slink just about anywhere…but might need your own soundtrack to accompany you.
You can toy with your multiple personalities.
The men can play this game, too.
Flirt with as much – or as little colour as you can handle. And be sure to coordinate it with your landscape du jour.
I loved this image by Garance Doré, taken on Ipanema Beach last summer – the play of sunlight, the Louboutin sole against the patent blue, against the straw and sand.
It perfectly captures the energy of Rio as I imagine it to be. “Tall and tan and young and lovely…the girl from Ipanema goes walking and when she passes, each one she passes goes Ahhhhh…”
You might have to change your tune and give a nod to Mod with these on.
And really, could a post like this be complete without a couple of pairs of Blue Suede Shoes?
My head is now exploding with musical references from punk days (mohawk heels, anyone?) to the glitz and groove of glam rock. Perfect boots to Do the Strand in?
These had me taking steps a few hundred years back.
If you can’t walk a mile in those shoes, perhaps you can add a not so subtle bauble to your otherwise neutral ensemble?
This Rado Blue Fascination Jubilé timekeeper has an 18K gold bracelet with 206 diamonds, a scratch-resistant sapphire crystal face and hi-tech ceramic bracelet. Did your heart just skip a beat or few? It will set you back a cool 40K at Birks.
Oh, and let me borrow it? My cost per wear would be sky-high, since I only dabble in colour on occasion.
So, really, this colour has you covered.
It may be a cool tone, but its intensity will have you energized.
It will leave you – electrified.
I’ll have the remaining blue-hued images for you in part deux (yes, there are more if you can believe it).
Image Sources: 1. Vogue.com; 2. Elle.com; 3. Harper’s Bazaar UK; 4. You Tube; 5. Stegosauro; 6. NY Post; 7. Shrimpton Couture; 8, 9. Style.com; 10. Courtesy of Bibhu Mohapatra; 11. Style.com; 12. Shrimpton Couture; 13. Vogue.com; 14. WWD; 15. Elle.com; 16. Courtesy of Costume National; 17. Getty Images; 18. Style.com; 19. Courtesy of Viktor and Rolf; 20. Style.com; 21. Vogue.com; 22. Garance Dore; 23. Pierre Cardin Shoes at the Bata photographed by Me; 24-26 Style.com; 27. Vogue.com; 28. Courtesy of Rado; 29. Style.com; 30. Vogue.com; 31. Luxury Emporium; 32. Vogue.com.
Toronto, your Maharaja moment is almost up.
Patiala saab - everyone’s favourite royal mac daddy – is packing up his precious wares and leaving his residence of the past few months – the AGO.
If you haven’t managed to pop by his place for tea, then you really must visit. Where else can you find colossal carats and kaam-valla (embroidered) kurtas amongst Beaton and Man Ray masterpieces?
I walked through the exhibit again late last week, after attending the opening party back in the Fall. I had forgotten the sublime hue of the Rolls, the perfect paisleys of my favourite necklace, the dull sheen of the silver thread in a true maharani’s sari.
I had forgotten art, and had gotten caught in the trap of everyday routine. And in a second or two, I was wrapped in lush velvet.
I was lost in the misty photograph of Indira Devi by Dorothy Wilding.
I was admiring the tailoring of the tails that Maharaja Yeshwant Rao of Indore wore in his Western dress painted portrait (he had another done in traditional garb but that portrait didn’t make it overseas as part of this show).
I was dreaming of sitting at that perfect Art Deco desk, listening to the jazz of another era. The era that created it.
I also attended a lecture that same evening, by one of the original curators of Maharaja: The Splendour of India’s Royal Courts, which was first shown at the Victoria and Albert Museum (a building I could linger in for hours) before coming to Toronto. Dr. Amin Jaffer, Director of Asian Art at Christie’s in London, had some fascinating tales of the maharajas and their luxury habits and I’ll share some of those stories in future posts – because, now of course, I need to know more…
In the meantime, get thee to the AGO before April 3rd, get lost in luscious luxury for an afternoon, and be dazzled…
…before it rolls back into the various vaults and vistas beyond.
Images: All photos marked with ** are by moi. Bhupinder Singh image courtesy of AGO; Rao portrait image detail courtesy of thedogster; Indira Devi image via The National Portrait Gallery, London; all others courtesy of the V&A Museum, London.
Erdem Moralioglu is an expressionist, impressing us with his imprint on fashion over the past few seasons.
The Ryerson grad has gradually won this un-printed girl’s heart over with his patterns and colours.
Seeing his latest collection for FW11, I couldn’t help but think…if Monet and Van Gogh joined forces and painted silk and velvet canvases today…
…the results would look a little something like this…
Whether it’s Impressionism, Post-Impressionism or a blur into Expressionism…Erdem’s penchant for painted masterpieces is evident.
Each hem, each sleeve is a brushstroke on this artist’s very human canvas.
All images courtesy of Vogue.com.
Art and fashion often intersect. Sometimes, as I flip through images in my fashion life, my art life calls out.
An image in front of your eyes recalls another, filed in the microfiche of your mind.
Like a scrolling blue-violet and white blur, it goes forward, then back, up, down, until it settles and you remember where you had seen something similar.
This Leonardo was recalled…
…when I saw this mag cover…
There is a stoic softness to the face in both images.
But the colouring of the portrait and length of the nose is from another da Vinci masterpiece.
Look at St. Anne’s face closely and look at the soft blue eyes of The Virgin.
Art, in any form, is so powerful, isn’t it? Once it makes an imprint, it’s not likely to leave you…
“As for your loving me, you don’t, not really.
You don’t. It’s only as something else.
As something you own. A painting, a Leonardo.
I don’t want to be a Leonardo,
I want to be myself.”
-Lucy, to Cecil in Merchant Ivory’s Room With A View
When I saw the cover of the June issue of Vanity Fair, Spain, I had another déjà vu.
It reminded me so much of a favourite photo of Frida Kahlo that has graced my bookshelf for years.
Given Ms. Hayek’s obsession with all things Frida, this is no coincidence.
The same hues of turquoise and fuchsia appear in both images, albeit reversed. The constant dance between head and heart are suggested with each woman’s hand placement. While Salma wears a modern dress vs. Ms. Kahlo’s traditional Mexican robes, the drapery is echoed and the rosettes in Kahlo’s hair show up around Hayek’s neckline.
And the parrot? An homage to another one of Frida’s famous paintings…
Frida painting from About.com. VF cover courtesy of magxone. Postcard image by Nickolas Muray, scanned by me.
One of my readers (hope you are reading this, Mr. Z) asked for more posts about fashion and art inspiration. This one just clicked as soon as I saw the images.
The previous post included a series of photos of Ragnhild Jevne by Marcus Ohlsson for the April issue of Velvet Magazine. Shot in a sandy landscape, it did remind me of the Byron poem I referenced, but it also pulled up a familiar image in my mind’s database.
Compare a photo from the shoot…
…with this painting by Dali. I bought the print a few years ago in Paris.
The composition is amazingly similar – the female figure in the foreground, a shadowy figure in the background amid a desert landscape. The afro wig in the current image reflects Dali’s head of flowers and the trail of fabric sings the same way in both.
The McQueen shoes in the photograph (from SS10) were labelled misogynistic – a major theme in surrealist art. Dali’s depictions of women do vary. The head of flowers moved me when I saw the original painting in Espace Dali Montmartre – with the moustached man (not so sublte, Mr. Dali!) at her mercy. This one seems to reverse roles from the usual commentary in surrealist art. I could look at that head of flowers for hours.
The gesture in another photo echoes the perfume bottle and box that Dali designed for Daliflor.
The Catalan painter and history-maker also created these landscapes – with butterflies.
Notice the couture-clad woman in the last one. Well, the combination of the butterlies and fashion reminds me of a recent example of circling butterflies by Mr. McQueen, who was heavily influenced by art in its various forms for so many of his collections.
The tilt of the torso in the runway shot brings me back to the same Dali flowered woman. Note the grey dress, cut to accent the shape of the body, similar to the figure in the painting.
You could say both Dali and McQueen had a head for details. They are probably having tea and discussing such divine details in the universe beyond, as we speak!
So there you have it – photographs that likely had their roots in painting which then fed fashion.
Art lives and breathes in so many iterations – it’s a circle of influence, completed and continuous.
See other art meets fashion meets art posts:
[Update May 17: forgot one] Inspiration: German Expressionism for Fall 09?
[Update April, 2011: Check the Fashion and Art History category for the latest posts.]
Art sometimes flirts with fashion.
Fashion, however, is often more overt in her advances towards art.
Such was the case with these Prada heels from FW08.
I had saved this image for my archives ages ago, but couldn’t think of why I was so obsessed with these shoes.
I don’t generally prefer Prada or have a soft spot for chunky, clunky shoes.
Then I realized that they emulate one of my favourite pieces of sculpture – futurist Umberto Boccioni’s Unique Forms of Continuity in Space.
The dynamic flow of movement is captured in both objects so eloquently.
The Boccioni satiates my soul, however, like only art can.
Prada image courtesy of style.com. Boccioni image source.
One turn, or in this case, curve of genius deserves another.
When I saw this look from Alexander McQueen’s Fall 09 collection last year, I couldn’t help but think that it reminded me of the work of another man who likes to play with curves – Frank Gehry.
McQueen, who shaped and drew and cut fabric as his artist’s material of choice, cannot be replaced in this life.
His works may not have the physical solidity of a building or structure, but they will certainly be housed in museums for thousands of years to come – maybe even those museums designed by Mr. Gehry.