Surrealist Dinner Party

Château de Ferrières, the suburban Parisian mansion of Baron Guy de Rothschild and Marie-Hélène

 

 

On December 12, 1972, Baron Guy de Rothschild and his wife Marie-Hélène hosted a costumed ball stranger than fiction. Château de Ferrières was on fire, sleeping cats the size of men littered the staircase, and all-enveloping cobwebs lined the hallways.The acid-laced zeitgeist of the 70s had trickled up and finally reached the ranks of the Parisian elite in the form of the Rothschilds’ theatrical Dîner des Têtes Surréalistes.

 

The MenuMenu

 

Detail of a table with a fur dish, Mae West red lips and blue bread

 

the dîner des têtes surréalistes invitation with reversed writing inspired by a magritte sky

 

The invitations for the ball—scrawled backwards so that it had to be read in a mirror—stated simply: black tie, long dresses, and Surrealist heads. When such requests are made of those with limitless time and money, the results are impressive. What manifested at the chateau that evening was a trippy tableau vivant comprised of the most notable personalities in the worlds of art and literature and their perception-bending headdresses.

 

 

The actress Jacqueline Delubac came as René Magritte’s Son of Man painting, a large green apple hiding her face. Audrey Hepburn’s head was ensnared in a bird cage. There was a two-headed woman, a horse, a grotesque Mona Lisa, and more than one bouquet of flowers. Not to be outdone, the hostess wore a giant stag’s head that wept diamond tears. And, of course, the master of Surrealism himself was there—Salvador Dalí came dressed as himself.

 

Audrey Hepburn

 

The Baroness Thyssen-Bornemizza & Guy Baguenault de Puchesse

 

Salvador Dalí and the Italian princess Maria Gabriella de Savoia

 

Charles de Croisset, Marisa Berenson snd Paul-Louis Weiller

 

Claude Lebon and Charlotte Aillaud

 

Hélène Rochas & François-Marie Banier

 

For desert: a sugar made woman laying in a bed of roses

 

Table of the swaying dolls

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Van Gogh Girls

 

For their Spring Summer 2015 collection,Viktor Horsting and Rolf Snoeren, the Dutch design duo known as Viktor & Rolf, presented A-line dresses with floral patterns and appliquéd petals that were inspired by Vincent van Gogh‘s paintings.

“The essence of the countryside is translated into unexpected, sculptural looks that combine abstract graphic volumes with organic elements,” said the designers.

The show began with the most demure outfits, featuring black flowers outlined on white babydoll dresses. These were worn with straw boater hats with stalks extended from their brims.Every outfit shown in the Van Gogh Girls collection was more elaborate than the one before, with silhouettes becoming more dramatic and pastel tones introduced.

The hats also gained size and volume, with longer strands arranged into different splayed forms or woven into intricate patterns.Gradually the two-dimensional flower motifs were turned into 3D adornments on the edges and shoulders of the dresses.The headgear and dresses continued to merge, as colours became more intense and the decorative fabric flowers reached further from the garments.

White hems interwoven with thick black ribbon accompanied the floral embellishments, paired with sandals in matching prints.

Bright summer hues gave way to earthy autumnal tones, culminating in a final look where the dress itself curved out to become integrated with the giant straw headpiece.

All of the fabrics were wax-dyed and block-printed using a batik technique by Dutch fabric company VLISCO.

“This ensures an unique high quality print with craquelé indigo lines and intense vibrant colours on both sides of the cloth,” the designers said.

Recognize Yourself

Louise de Coligny-Châtillon, Apollianire’s lover and muse from 1914 to 1915

 
 

Reconnais-toi, calligram by Apollinaire

 
 

When in 1915 Guillaume Apollinaire dedicated the calligram poem Reconnais-toi to Louise de Coligny-Châtillon, it represented the woman he was enamoured with, and who was one of his muses, wearing a wide-brimmed hat. It is worth nothing that the invention of the calligram is a movement towards abstraction: with the letters of the alphabet, Apollinaire drew the calligram featuring what the outspread words were referring to. Was it a sign of the times that only a few years later Gabrielle Chanel would call her first perfume N°5, replacing the name by a number…?

 
 

“Reconnais-toi
Cette adorable personne c’est toi
Sous le grand chapeau canotier
Oeil
Nez
La Bouche
voici l’ovale de la figure
ton cou exquis
un peu plus bas
c’est ton coeur qui bat
ni
ci confus
l’impure
par le mirage
de ton buste adoré
un comma
à travers un nuage”

February 1915
Poèmes à Lou (Poems to Lou)

 
 

___________________________

 
 

“Recognize yourself
this adorable person is you
under the big Carolina hat
eye
nose
mouth
here is the oval of your face
your exquisite neck
a bit lower down
there’s your beating heart
nor
should we mix with it
the impure
through the mirage
of your loved breast
a comma
through a cloud”

Jacques Fath’s Muse

Geneviève and Jacques Fath. Photos by Nina Leen, 1946

 
 

 Photo by Maurice Jarnoux

 
 

Jacques Fath, who has been described by Italian journalist Bonaventuro Calora as “extremely effeminate” and a former lover of the French film director Léonide Moguy, married, in 1939, Geneviève Boucher de la Bruyère. The bride was a former model from an aristocratic family who had been a secretary to Coco Chanel. They had one son, Philippe (born 1943). According to Fath’s friend Princess Giovanna Pignatelli Aragona Cortés, Geneviève Fath, who directed the business side of her husband’s firm during his lifetime, was a lesbian.

Mrs Jacques Fath travelled the US with a $12, 000 wardrobe — almost $116.000 in today’s currency — all created by her husband, the legendary Jacques Fath. This included 17 hats, 16 pairs of shoes, 10 handbags, four umbrellas, and other accessories, not including 12 trunks full of suits and dresses.

 
 

Life Magazine, April 19, 1948

Tilda Swinton’s Surreal Fashion Fantasy

Tim Walker and actress Tilda Swinton created a series of phantasmagorias inspired by artists Salvador Dalí, Giorgio de Chirico, Remedios Varo, Leonora Carrington, and other muses and collaborators of English eccentric, poet, and surrealist collector Edward James.

 
 

Cover of W magazine. Modern Beauty issue. May 2013

 
 

Givenchy by Riccardo Tisci dress; Cornelia James gloves

 
 

Vera Wang Collection dress; Vicki Beamon lips and fingertips; Cornelia James gloves

 
 

Acne Studios gown

 
 

Maison Martin Margiela dress and gloves

 
 

 Rick Owens jacket and dress

 
 

 Ann Demeulemeester dress; Cornelia James gloves

 
 

Balmain jacket; Max Mara jacket; Swinton’s own Olivier Saillard gloves

 
 

Rochas dress; National Theatre Costume Hire underskirt; Cornelia James gloves; Céline pumps

 
 

Angels the Costumiers cape; Gucci gown; Vicki Beamon mask; Cornelia James gloves

 
 

Azzedine Alaïa top, skirt, and shoes; Emilio Cavallini bodysuit; Alexander McQueen headpiece

 
 

 Louis Vuitton dress and shoes; Cornelia James gloves; Emilio Cavallini tights

 
 

 Haider Ackermann shirt and trousers

 
 

Mary Katrantzou dress; Cornelia James gloves

 
 

Giorgio Armani blouse, skirt, and pants; Haider Ackermann dress; Ann Demeulemeester top; Cornelia James gloves; Prada gaiters and socks

 
 

Francesco Scognamiglio dress

The Silly Symphony of The Moth and The Flame

Moth And the Flame (Burt Gillett, 1938). Produced by Walt Disney

 
 

There is an ongoing theme in the Silly Symphonies series of exploring worlds that exist right under our noses. From the very beginning of the series, looking at the skeletons who dance in the graveyard when people are not around, to Midnight in a Toy Shop, examining toys after people go home, the Silly Symphonies often look at these “hidden” worlds. Moth and the Flame is the same idea, examining a costume shop after hours when invaded by a group of moths.

A fleet of moths swarm of moths tear into “Ye Olde Costume Shop” through a scantily plug warren contained by a fanlight and make expeditious tough grind of the contents. A mannish moth ignore his female to chow fuzz next to a hood and she’s presently seduced beside a candle flame, which swiftly spreads. He notice her abandoned in a spider net with the kindling fire attacking and makes every attempt to liberate her, but pour benzene on the fire by in the wrong pace. The nap of the moths be summon, and they disagreement the fire with water-filled bagpipes, an air bead with a water-filled funnel, etc., while our hero works to amnesty his lady from the spider web. Most of the time, the flame is a caricature of a Latin lover. But for a few seconds at one time, it takes on the caricatured appearance of Walt Disney.

 
 

You’re so Desirable (Like a Butterfly on a Pin)

Phillip Treacy hat for Alexander McQueen AW 08 collection

 
 

You’re so desirable

You’re so desirable
I just can’t resist you
You’re so desirable
I have to give in
That tirm resolve I made
Has vanished away now
I’m happy to say now
You win

You’re so adorable
The moment I saw you
It’s just deplorable
The fool that I’ve been
And yet I’m glad
You’ve got my heart dear
Like a butterfly on a pin
You’re so desirable
I had to give in

Composed by Ray Noble

Recorded by Billie Holiday and Teddy Wilson in 1938

Tribute to Van Gogh on the Catwalk

Yves Saint Laurent, Tribute to Vincent Van Gogh, haute couture collection, Spring-Summer 1988

 
 

Detail of a jacket embroidered by François Lesage

 
 

Saint Laurent and Mr. Lesage recreated the irises and sunflowers of  Van Gogh’s paintings

 
 

Widely known for his use of watercolor, Vincent Van Gogh’s most famous artwork has been transformed into garments and adapted into fashion trends. Van Gogh’s paintings are not always clear and may even appear distorted in order to drag the 19th century art into current times. Although his work may not be directly printed on garments, designers tend to use his color palette in product design and production. Four of his famous creations included the Sunflowers still life series,Blossoming Almond Tree, Starry Night Over the Rhone, and Starry Night.

the sisters Kate and Laura Mulleavy from Rodarte, sent out a collection that was one part Sleeping Beauty and another part Vincent Van Gogh. They explained that they fell for the greens and purples of the 1959 animated Disney classic, and asked themselves who else uses colors like that. They found their answer in the Dutch postimpressionist painter beloved by millions.

Those sunflowers appear woven into elaborate Lyons brocades of the type favored by the great mid-century couturiers such as Pierre Balmain and Christian Dior, although the Mulleavys seem to have washed and treated them to deflate some of that sumptuousness. Those optimistic, life-affirming blooms also appear in delicate silk-floss embroideries, scattered over fragile tulle ruffles.

There is more mid- and late-century couture influence in some of the gala shapes: swathed fichu necklines and bodices erupting into buoyant skirts, for instance, and even a Reine Margot bodice or two that seems plucked from the Christian Lacroix archive. But the fertile and poetic Mulleavy imagination grafts these touches onto modernistic effects. Mediterranean skies are lit by a full moon, and a brilliant Milky Way is evoked in gleaming metallic brocades, crystals nestling in the folds of knits, and clunky heeled sandals in reflective-mirror silver. Meanwhile, ruched glove leather, and exaggerated layered peplums and winged sleeves suggest the princess in an Alex Raymond‘s Flash Gordon story.

 
 

Rodarte, Spring-Summer 2012 Ready-to-Wear Collection

 
 

Textures from Rodarte SS 2012 collection

A Mexican Fiesta in Paris

Jean Paul Gaultier went down Mexico way. All the way. He had a mariachi band. He had gauchos, sombreros, striped peasant blankets, Spanish shawls, enough hand-tooled leather, cowboy boots to outfit an army of gauchos, and cigars. He had a conquistador moment—and then he was into the jungle, weaving leaves with indigenous peoples. Gaultier turned his spring/summer 2010 haute couture collection into a Mexican fiesta in Paris.

The “enfant terrible” of Paris fashion even managed to rope in the Aztecs, via Moctezuma-style turquoise, restyled as extreme corsetry, and paid homage to James Cameron‘s sci-fi, box office blockbuster, Avatar with multi-plaited hairstyles, in the manner of the Narvi, Amazonian tattoos, and tropical, jungle motifs.

Apparently, Jean Paul Gaultier had been to an exhibition about Moctezuma, the Aztec emperor, in London last year, and that—with the side influence of Avatar’s tribal-eco message—is what set him off in this direction.

 
 

Leopard-skin Pillbox Hat

“Well, I see you got your brand new leopard-skin pill-box hat
Yes, I see you got your brand new leopard-skin pill-box hat
Well, you must tell me, baby
How your head feels under somethin’ like that
Under your brand new leopard-skin pill-box hat…”

Bob Dylan

 
 

Photo: Henri Cartier-Bresson, Washington, 1961

 
 

The always stunning Audrey Hepburn. Promotional picture and still from Charade (Stanley Donen, 1963)

 
 

Leopard-Skin Pill-Box Hat” is a song by Bob Dylan, from his 1966 album Blonde on Blonde. The song melodically and lyrically resembles Lightnin’ Hopkins “Automobile Blues” (1962)

Dylan’s lyrics affectionately ridicule a female “fashion victim” who wears a leopard skin pillbox hat. The pillbox hat was a popular, highly fashionable ladies’ hat in the United States in the early to mid-1960s, and was most famously worn by Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis. Dylan satirically crosses this accessory’s high-fashion image with leopard-skin material, perceived as considerably more “downmarket” and “vulgar”. The song was also written and released long after pillbox hats had been at the height of fashion, something that was very apparent to listeners at the time.

 
 

 
 

The song has been widely speculated to be inspired by Edie Sedgwick, an actress/model known for her association with Andy Warhol. Sedgwick is also often suspected as being an inspiration for other Dylan songs of the time, particularly some from Blonde on Blonde. Beck, Bibbe Hansen Warhol superstar’s son , released a cover on the 2009 charity album War Child Presents Heroes, and also performed the song during the closing credits of the 81st Academy Awards.

An Ancient Emblem of Liberty

Jacqueline Kennedy en route to lunch with President and Mrs. Charles de Gaulle, Paris, May 31, 1961

 
 

Jackie KennedyJacqueline Kennedy during her official visit to Paris, on May 1961. She was wearing Alaskine (wool and silk) created by Oleg Cassini and pill-box hat created by Roy Halston Frowick

 
 

Jacqueline Kennedy, First Lady of the United States from 1961 to 1963, was well known for her “signature pillbox hats” from circa 1961 to 1963

 
 

PREDECESSORS

 
 

Memorial Stained Glass window, Class of 1934, Royal Military College of Canada, Kingston Ontario, Canada

 
 

A pillbox hat is a small woman’s hat with a flat crown and straight, upright sides, and no brim. Historically, the pillbox hat was military headgear, often including a chin strap, and it can still be seen on ceremonial occasions in some countries, especially from those which are of the Commonwealth of Nations. For example, the Royal Military College of Canada dress uniform includes a pillbox hat.

 
 

Castor wearing a pileus-like helmet, detail from a scene representing the gathering of the Argonauts

 
 

Odysseus offering wine to the Cyclops. Ancient statue in the Vatican, Rome

 
 

During the late Roman Empire, the pillbox, then known as the pileus or “Pannonian cap” was worn by Roman soldiers. The pileus was especially associated with the manumission of slaves. who wore it upon their liberation. It became emblematic of liberty and freedom from bondage.

 
 

SUCCESOR

 
 

Reese Whiterspoon as Elle Woods on Legally Blonde 2: Red, White & Blonde (Charles Herman-Wurmfeld, 2003), sequel to the film, Legally Blonde (Robert Luketic, 2001). Costume design by Sophie de Rakoff

Of Claws and Clothes

“Beauty should be edible, or not at all.”

Salvador Dalí

Lobster Telephone by Salvador Dalí, 1936

 
 

In 1936, Salvador Dali designed the Lobster telephone. By spring 1937, Italian fashion designer, Elsa Schiaparelli asked him to design a lobster as a decoration for a white organdy evening gown. And the dress was made famous when it appeared in Vogue modeled by Wallis Simpson. As an American Divorcee, Simpson gained notoriety when the Duke of Windsor chose to marry her in 1936 rather than become King of England.

The oversized lobster on this dress is strangely out of place on such a romantic and feminine gown. The odd juxtaposition between evening gown and sea creature was certainly not an accident. Many of Schiaparelli’s designs were both shocking and humorous.

 
 

 
 

Elsa Schiaparelli in her atelier

 
 

Lobster dress, in collaboration with Salvador Dali, 1937

 
 

Wallis Simpson. Photos: Cecil Beaton

 
 

Lobster, Andy Warhol, circa 1982

 
 

Isabella Blow at the American Embassy in Paris, 1998

 
 

Isabella Blow, in her lobster hat (by Erik Halley), at Julien MacDonald’s fashion show in London, 1998

 
 

Lobster Necklace by Erik Halley

 
 

Lady Gaga wearing a lobster hat designed by Philip Treacy in 2011

 
 

Lobster brooch by Tiffany and Co. which contains 200 pink sapphires and 61 spessartites in 18 karat gold. The lobster’s eyes are made from vivid emeralds and the antennae are sparkling diamonds. Summer 2009 collection.

 
 

Thom Browne Spring/Summer 2013

 
 

Tommy Hilfiger Short, Exploded Lobster Print Flat Front Short. 2013 Spring-Summer collection.

 
 

John Galliano Spring/Summer 2013 Menswear collection

Shoe-hat

Illustration for hats. Autumn-Winter 1937/1938 collection

The hat was designed by Salvador Dalí who was inspired by a photograph of himself wearing his wife’s shoe on his head.

 
 

Gala wearing the iconic shoe-hat. Photo André Caillet 1938

 
 

The “Almodóvar girl” Rossy de Palma (described by many as a Picasso-come-to-life) and Christian Louboutin. Photo: Mario Chavarría for Harper’s Bazaar Spain, 2010

 
 

Lady Gaga in a Born This Way (2011) promotional photograph by Mariano Vivanco