EuropeanaFashion Explore fashion - historical clothing and accessories, contemporary designs, catwalk photographs, drawings, sketches, plates, catalogues and videos - from museums and archives across Europe.
Europeana Fashion - launched with a new look in May 2017 - brings together the digitised collections of more than 30 European public and private institutions.
Bill Gibb: Romantic Fantasy In the late Sixties and throughout the Seventies, the youth movements brought a renewed interest in historicism, provoking a romantic exploration of the techniques and crafts of the past centuries. This influenced many aspects of creative expression, including fashion. Full-length blue evening dress of crêpe, designed by Bill Gibb, 1972. Courtesy Victoria and Albert Museum, CC BY. One of the many designers who took part to this revival craze of romantic historicism, was Bill Gibb. Coming from a village in Scotland, Gibb attended the fashion course at the Central Saint Martin's School of Art in London on suggestion of his school teachers, and later won a scholarship to the Roayl College of Art, to which he enrolled and then left before completing his degree to start his own business. In 1967 he was on of six designers invited to New York to present their collections, and on this occasion he spent three months touring the USA, after which he returned to London to open his first boutique, the 'Angela Paul'. Ensemble designed by Bill Gibb, ca. 1970. Courtesy MUDE - Museu do Design e da Moda, all rights reserved. For the boutique, which he run with three firends through 1969, he designed clothes that reflected the spirit and the style of 1960s London. However, it was during the Seventies -he started his own line in 1972 - that he embraced the fantasy style for which he became mostly known. Beside taking inspiration from the world of nature and animals, his creations that looked at past handcrafts and techniques, combined in historically inspired gowns and dresses, made him one of the best representat of 'romantic eclecticism,' a style that was popular at the time. Suit consisting of printed glazed cotton skirt and jacket, possibly designed by Bill Gibb for Baccarat, 1971. Courtesy Victoria and Albert Museum, CC BY. Gibb also collaborated with artist Kaffe Fassett, who designed for him intricate knitwear patterns that were produced in collaboration with Mildred Bolton and later with a manufacturer in Leicestershire who machine-knit his intricate design. He kept designing until the mid-1980s; he presented his last collection in 1985, one year before his death. 15 Aug blog
Europeana Fashion Focus: Sketch from the Collezione Palio by Emilio Pucci, 1957 Sketch from the Collezione Palio by Emilio Pucci in 1957, Courtesy Pucci Archive. The image shows a sketch of a bathing suit from the Collezione Palio designed by Emilio Pucci in 1957, Courtesy Pucci Archive. The bathing suit is a one-piece in black and yellow fabric, one-shoulder, with a central design recalling the battlements of medieval castles. The battlement divides the yellow from the black part, creating an interesting geometric play on the curvaceous body of the model sketched wearing the swimsuit. The silhouette of the model is clearly inspired by the divas of the 1950, who were costumers and also friends of the Marchese Pucci. Together with the bathing suit, a matching headpiece in black fabric is also added to complete the look. In 1957 The Marchese Emilio Pucci presented at Palazzo Pitti a collection inspired by the Palio di Siena. The collection drew inspiration from the colors of the flags and the heraldic motifs of the various contrade battling each year in the famous Palio di Siena: an history event taking place every year, and to which the Marchese assisted in 1955. The translation he made of this event into his fashion language was a synthesis of the atmosphere of the Palio with the ‘modern’ attitude to dress that was developing in western society. Emilio Pucci himself declared: It may seem strange that I have chosen such a remote theme for my work that is so modern. But I, a Florentine craftsman of today, feel very close to the artisans of the Three and Fourteenth Centuries and it is the medieval element of the Palio with its rich geometric and color motifs that fascinated me. 13 Aug blog
Runway Archive: Christian Dior Couture s/s 1998 Christian Dior couture show, s/s 1998, photo by Etienne Tordoir. Courtesy Catwalkpictures, all rights reserved. In the picture taken by photographer Etienne Tordoir, a model dressed in all-silver is going down the stairs of the Opera Garnier, where the Christian Dior couture spring/summer 1998 show was staged. The look was designed by John Galliano - then creative director of the Maison - and is composed by a multilayered dress with an asymmetric cut; it is made of two different ligh fabrics, both in silver, and an armour sleeve in metal. On her head, the model is wearing an headpiece resembling a metallic crown with long bejewelled chains. Featuring a lavish succession of Art Noveau silhouttes in richly brocade and velvet fabrics, and sumptuous ornaments and trims, the collection of which this look is part of was inspired by the Marchesa Casati, the eccentric Italian heiress and patroness of the arts, who became an icon of the first half of Twentieth century. During the show, the stairs of the Opera Garnier welcomed models in overwhelming clothes that looked like they were coming to attend a masked ball. Drawing from the ecletic figure and wardrobe of the Marchesa, the collection featured 1920s inspired coats and dresses, but also wide 19th century gowns. The whole show - a real event - ended with a shower of pastel coloured confetti cut in the shape of butterflies. 10 Aug blog
YSL: The avant-gardism of revival The relationship fashion has with its past is quite complex. The past can either be a prison to flee away from or a jar where to find atmospheres, shapes, vibes. We are taught that, when past is the declared source of inspiration, we are talking about a ‘revival’. The dynamics of revival seem plain: revival means taking a period and rethinking it, reconsidering it with a different awareness, that of the present, and actually remaking its objects with the memory of the mould. The first ‘revival’ collection was actually thought for people who ‘did not have memories’, and was developed by one of the designers whose name is related with avant-garde: Yves Saint Laurent. In 1971, Yves Saint Laurent presented his ‘Liberation’ collection, also called ‘Forties’, for the evident reprise of themes and variations of the war years. The collection was defined ‘hideous’ by the press, because it was a ‘sad reminder’ of a period of restriction. Pleated dress with mythological figures, Courtesy MUDE - Museu do Design e da Moda, Colecção Francisco Capelo France felt betrayed by the elected heir of the grand couturiers. Saint Laurent himself compared the clash he provoked with the ‘scandal’ of Manet’s ‘Olympia’, finding himself both ‘sad’ and ‘delighted’ by the results of what he considered a rebellion to the static nature of Haute Couture. ‘L’important, c’est que les filles jeunes qui, elles, n’ont jamais connu cette mode, aient envie de la porter,’ he declared. Maybe pushed both by the ‘revival craze’ fashion is experiencing in these days and the general lack of novelty in fashion, in 2015 the Fondation Yves Saint Laurent Pierre Bergé and curator Olivier Saillard decided to put on stage the infamous ‘Liberation’ collection. The set, designed by Nathalie Crinière briought the audience inside the laboratory of the couturier, with clothes, sketches, fabric choices and the whole line up of the eighty-pieces collection, printed human-scale on the walls, and then moves through the many pages of newspapers which strongly criticised the collection. The exhibition came in a moment when scandal was no longer a scandalous word. For Saint Laurent, revival meant provocation, a ‘historical exercise’, useful to convey a brand-new message. 07 Aug blog
Romantic Longing: Robe de Style The 'roaring Twenties' are generally described as a modern decade, being represented by the figure of the flapper, the cutting-edge girl wearing a straight, short dress and the bob haircut. However, in the same decade another fashion, with a more romantic appeal, became popular. In fact, during the 1920s and throughout the 1930s, women could indulge in looking back to the past centuries wearing their robes de style. Robe de style, Jeanne Lanvin, 1919. Courtesy Les Arts Décoratifs, all rights reserved. Robes de style were those dresses and gowns with a usually simple top, dropped waist and full wide skirts that required hoops and panniers; they were inspired by the costumes of the 18th or 17th century. They became popular amongst girls, who were too young to wear the daring flapper's look, and their mothers, as the cut and volumes of the gowns resulted in a more flattering fit than those of the linear flappers' dress. Drawing by Muguette Buhler, 1924. Courtesy Les Arts Décoratifs, all rights reserved. Although not being the inventor, Jeanne Lanvin championed the design of these dresses, debuting her first takes on the silhouette towards the end of the 1910s. A trained milliner, Lanvin moved to dressmaking as her clients asked her for the garments she made for her daughter, delicately embroidered and embellished robes de style. For this reason, her earlier creation for women also included a pendant version for younger girls. Dresses and hat by Jeanne Lanvin, "Planche IV - Supplément du 'Style Parisien" No. 7, le directeur-gérant Lucien Vogel", February 1916. Courtesy Kunstbibliothek, Staatliche Museen zu Berlin, CC BY NC SA. Jeanne Lanvin was not however the only celebrated creator of robes the style. The House of Worth, Paul Poiret, Callot Soeurs and Boué Soeurs worked on these silhouettes too. Not only limited to the evening, there was a full range of robes the style that could be worn all through the day during different occasions. For their wide skirts, the main characteristic of these robes was the fabric implied in their creation and various decorations they featured. This was though also the reason for their decline. In fact, World War II and the shortages and restrictions of fabrics that came with it, led the tastes to a less dispendious look. 03 Aug blog
The Editor's Column: Fashion and History There is no set place where to start researching the history of fashion. Given its complexity and hybridity, fashion modem in between different areas, and this dynamism characterised its development since the very early stages of its systemisation. On the other hand, one way to research history, with all its flashbacks and flash-forwards, is in the pleats of fashion itself. David and Rina Davidoff after their betrothal, wearing traditional Bukharan festive attire, Courtesy The Israel Museum, Jerusalem, All Rights Reserved Costume history is loaded with examples of how the past leaves very material traces. Traditions are often represented, in the present, by clothes themselves, which become the fundamental props to reenact situations and commemorate important events. History comes into the contemporary also as techniques, learned from the past and applied to new and unexpected materials. The mesh between history and future is fascinating, because the tension in place between the two allows the space to represent history and also question it, as it happened with the revival of some controversial style. Each era has its own peculiarities, and these peculiarities form a recognizable style. Creators from different epochs have drawn inspiration from the styles the felt most near to their sensibility, and therefore history became a basin from which to gather information. Quotations in fashion have also been a way to link it to art, trying to relocate fashion in between other disciplines, often justifying its pace and extravagances. Photo from the Christian Lacroix 1989/1990 women's ready-to-wear fashion show, Courtesy Paul Van Riel, All Rights Reserved In contemporary fashion, and especially for big fashion houses, the archive is gaining invaluable importance.Many professionals gravitate around the archive: not only the archivist, but also the researcher, the designer, the manager of communication, the curator, the critic. The trajectories described by all these actors create a map with the archive as a core centre. Reviving the archive means researching and reflecting on what can be done to update tradition. Some of these experiences will be described this month, dedicated to the past, but always with the eyesight turned to the future. 02 Aug blog