Spanish Modernism in Fashion Today

June 19, 2011 § Leave a comment

I don’t know if Lady Gaga won anything at the Grammy’s this year, or if she was even nominated.  Did she perform?  I dunno. The only thing I remember is that she floated along the Red Carpet in a giant egg. The egg sat on what looked like a wooden plank that Vikings might have used to carry giant wild boar, and it was supported at each corner by adonis-like men, one of whom had very neat facial hair (probably gay?). Oh, and there was also a woman dressed in the same Rick Owens-meets-Flinstones gear, who would touch the egg and, every now and then, pose with a very, very serious face. Out of all of Gaga’s entourage, she was the only one not wearing what looked like Timberlands.

Gaga and crew on Red Carpet (via celebritysmackblog)

The reasoning behind this uberdramatic entrance was the release of Gaga’s album “Born This Way.” (Egg=Birth. Get it?) I think, though, that the inspiration might have come from one of my favorite Salvador Dali paintings, Geopoliticus Child Watching the Birth of the New Man (1943).  The subject matter was the same, as was the creme color scheme and spooky tone. The Dali painting is even complete with a very skinny woman touching the egg with a very, very serious face.

Gaga Emerging from Egg

Dalí's "Geopoliticus Child Watching the Birth of the New Man" (1943; via SalvadorDaliPaintings.blogspot.com)

Since Gaga’s famous egg entrance this past spring, I’ve noticed the influence of the Spanish Modernists Salvador Dalí and Juan Miró in the work of various designers and street style.  I just saw this image of a man wearing a Miró-esque shirt on Facehunter, for example.

Miró-inspired shirt (via Facehunter)

Miró's "Peinture" (1945; via thisisniceyeah.blogspot)

One of Miró’s contributions to Modernism was the idea of painting from the subconscious via dreams. In Peinture (1945), white and black forms float on a sea of blue paint. At first glance, the form on the right resembles a woman wearing a dress, but upon closer inspection, that image is lost. Similarly, the white form on the left initially resembles the head of a dog (or New York State?) but Miró later revealed that it was based upon a horse from a past dream. The picture from Facehunter has a similar visual quality, with an amorphous white shape floating in a sea of dark grey and black. It also shares the playfulness and bold color contrast found in Peinture.

Like Miró, Dalí’s paintings were also inspired by dreams, which much of the imagery in his work was based upon. Some of the most recognizable images from Dalí works are his distorted interpretations of the human form. Several of them had floating eyes, or lips or torsos reimagined in a variety of styles. I recently stumbled upon these “front and back” cufflinks at Opening Ceremony from the designer Delphina Delettrez. They echo Dalí’s signature interpretation of the human body.

"Front and Back" Cufflinks by Delphina Delettrez (via Opening Ceremony)

Dalí's "Young Virgin Auto" (1954; via Artchive.com)

I also found these “Silver Evil Eye Studs” at Oak by Low Luv. They remind me of a scene from Alfred Hitchcock’s film Spellbound, which Dalí had worked on. The screen shot below shows a dream sequence from the film in which giant eyes from the ceiling display different states of staring.

Silver Evil Eye Studs by Low Luv (via Oak)

Screenshot from Hitchcock's "Spellbound" (1945; via nypress.com)

Since the early 20th century was a time in which artists (not only in Spain, but the rest of the Western world) separated themselves from traditional themes and artistic techniques, a plethora of innovative imagery emerged. In some ways, for the first time artists had a space in which they could radically experiment and reinvent how they conceptualized their work. In doing this, they changed the way many people saw beauty and impacted art and fashion that was created thereafter.

Modernism has contributed so much to fashion already. How can any of us forget the impact that Yves Saint Laurent’s Mondrian dresses had on visual culture in the 60s, for example? And because of Modernism’s wealth of imagery, I doubt it will ever cease to inspire fashion. At least, I hope not.

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