December is a unique month. It signals the end of a period, and prepares us for a new beginning. In this being in-between it is special, and surely out of the ordinary; this is why, for this December, we decided to dedicate our attention to attires and objects that are not part of everyday culture, and are special items both for their appearance and their meaning.
Kenzo Fashion Show for the A/W 1985-86 Collection. Photo Courtesy Paul Van Riel, All Rights Reserved
Fashion deals with the ordinary, but most times the fashion we are most drawn to is that that makes us wonder, which allows us to dream. While everyday fashion is an interesting and fundamental tool to understand the way clothes are part of the construction of personal and public identities, as well as they contribute to the build up of national and international narratives, clothes that are unexpected and flamboyant, or appear ‘strange’ and non-conform to what society considers normal, are able to give us glimpses into the life of unconventional groups of people, who used fashion precisely to mark their difference. In other cases, something that for us looks unconventional today might have been the norm in other eras, and understanding this is important in order to better grasp the atmosphere and way of thinking that was common in that precise time.
Court dress consisting of an embroidered silk mantua robe and petticoat, probably made in England, 1740-1745. Courtesy Victoria and Albert Museum, CC BY
Extra-ordinary dresses are, for us, those that tell interesting stories about their design, the way the were or are used in special occasions and the way their form has changed or stayed the same over time. It will be a journey defying some old conceptions, crossing times and spaces, touching on different issues such as historicism, quotation, traditions and cross-cultural references: a good way, we think, to say goodbye to the old year and welcome the new one.