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

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Hopes and Glory

The Union Jack cap is paired with a leather and horsehair hat by Soren Bach. The black embroidered tulle and lace dress is from Dior Haute Couture by John Galliano

 
 

The vintage Russell Sage Union Jack jacket joins forces with a short tulle dress hand embroidered with guipure and silk taffeta from Elie Saab Couture

 
 

Looking patriotic in makeshift Union Jack trousers by Katie Eary, worn with a Jean-Paul Gaultier’s beaded Deco top

 
 

Images of Kate Moss by Mario Testino, Vogue,  October 2008

Religion as A Liberating Force

 
 

No designer draws on religious themes to quite such glorious effect as Givenchy’s Riccardo Tisci. Thus, it made perfect sense that Tisci came on board to guest-edit Visionaire’s 60th issue, RELIGION. Housed inside a distressed wood case lined in black Plexiglas, a book of images revealed Tisci’s world and the inspiration behind his work. Naturally, the works were loaded with symbolism, like a photo of Tisci suckling at the teat of Marina Abramovic — an image the performance artist says echoed the relationship between art and fashion. “When Riccardo was asked who I wanted to collaborate with,” Abramovic recalls, “I said the only thing I want is to collaborate with you. That was my ultimatum. I said to him, This is the situation: do you admit that fashion is inspired by art? Well I am the art, you are the fashion, now suck my tits! He’s very shy, so it took him a while to come around. But he did. During the shoot, I wanted to be in a state of mind as if I were delivering the emotions of the artist whose work is being used as inspiration—luminous yet strong. Art is giving. Art is nourishing. Art is oxygen to society. I was thinking what the title would be, and I thought of The Contract.” For Tisci, it was an opportunity to meditate on his past and present. “Visionaire was a truly important moment of reflection for me,” he says. “This collection of work celebrates inner truths, inner dialogues, and moments which words cannot quantify.”

Riccardo Tisci explores “religion as liberating force, complete with its share of saints, sinners, and supermodels.” However vaguely Tisci sees his own faith, his Visionaire is Catholic with a capital C, featuring eye-popping imagery that turns a millennium of European art on its head. Housed in an unfolding wooden case that nods to the great tradition of the altarpiece, the issue doesn’t scrimp on saints, including Carine Roitfeld, appropriately venerated in a series of haunting portraits by Karl Lagerfeld. (“Religion is anything you believe in,” the Chanel designer offers.)

The rest of the issue is an exuberant visual tribute to religious tropes. The Madonna and Child are revisited by Mario Sorrenti, and while she’s not exactly Rubenesque, there’s a certain minimalist serenity about her that beguiles. Paolo Canevari and Francesco Carrozzini canonize Franca Sozzani, complete with a Giotto-like halo, while Tisci’s house model, Lea T, is reimagined by Giovanna Battaglia and Pierpaolo Ferrari as a beautiful veiled martyr in Renaissance-style couture. The Son then comes into his own as Danko and Ana Steiner and Jared Buckheister rework the crucifixion, mounting Jesus on—or is it at—a lectern. Some of the pictures are slightly less tranquil. The shoot by Mert Alas & Marcus Piggott of Lara Stone bound in ropes beside a burning cross conjures both Saint Joan and Mississippi Burning. But perhaps the most indelible image is that of Tisci suckling at the breast of Marina Abramovic, a woman who knows a thing or two about suffering for belief.

 
 

Under the Sign of the Cross

Lara Stone y Natasha Poly for Visionaire 60 Religion by Riccardo TisciLara Stone posing for Visionaire 60th issue, Religion. Photo: Mert Alas and Marcus Piggott

 
 

Contrary to current popular belief, the Latin or “Passion” cross was not a Christian emblem from the beginning. It was not assimilated into the Christian religion until the seventh century A.C., and was not fully authorized until the ninth century. Primitive churches preferred to represent Christ by the figure of a lamb, or else a “Good Shepherd” carrying a lamb, in the conventional manner of Hermes and Osiris. In several places the New Testament says that Jesus was hanged on a tree, not a cross (Acts 5:30; 1 Peter 2:24) and some sects believed this tree to be literal, not metaphorical.

This would have envisioned Jesus rather closer to such tree-slain savior figures as Krishna, Marsyas, Odin and Dodonian Zeus.

Some early Christian fathers specifically repudiated the Latin cross on the ground that it was a pagan symbol. On a coin of Gallienus, it appeared as the scepter of Apollo. On the Damietta stone, it set off the words “Ptolemy the Savior”. According to the Greeks, this cross signified “the life to come” in the Egyptian religion of Sarapis.

Once the Latin cross was accepted by Christianity, all kind of pious nonsense began to accrete around the symbol. It was claimed, for example, that the very wood of the Tree of Life in the Garden of Eden had been preserved by Adam and all the patriarchs after him, in order to be fashioned into Jesus’ cross – for Jesus was declared the second or reincarnated Adam designed to correct the fault of the first one.

Swan’s Way

Blazon

For the Countess of Peralta

 
 

The snow-white Olympic swan,
with beak of rose-red agate,
preens his Eucharistic wing,
which he opens to the sun like a fan.

 

His shining neck is curved
like the arm of a lyre,
like the handle of a Greek amphora,
like the prow of a ship.

 

He is the swan of divine origin
whose kiss mounted through fields
of silk to the rosy peaks
of Leda’s sweet hills.

 

White king of of Castalia’s fount,
his triumph illumines the Danube;
Da Vinci was his baron in Italy;
Lohengrin is his blond prince.

 

His whiteness is akin to linen,
to the buds of the white roses,
to the diamantine white
of the fleece of an Easter lamb.

 

He is the poet of perfect verses,
and his lyric cloak is of ermine;
he is the magic, the regal bird
who, dying, rhymes the soul in his song.

 

This winged aristocrat displays
white lilies on a blue field;
and Pompadour, gracious and lovely,
has stroked his feathers.

 

He rows and rows on the lake
Where a golden gondola waits
For the sweetheart of Louis of Bavaria.

 

Countess, give the swans your love,
for they are gods of an alluring land
and are made of perfume and ermine,
of white light, of silk, and of dreams.

Ruben Darío

 
 

Photo: Bruce Weber

 
 

Carmen Dell’Orefice by Norman Parkinson, 1980

 
 

Swaroski logo

 
 

Bathyllus in the swan dance, Aubrey Beardsley

 
 

Henri Matisse making a study of a swan in the Bois de Boulogne, c. 1930

 
 

Advertisement illustrated by René Gruau

 
 

Illustration to Garcia Márquez’s short story Bon Voyage Mr. President, by Josie Portillo

 
 

Still from The Black Swan (Darren Aronofsky, 2010)

 
 

Anna Pavlova

 
 

Still from The Twilight Saga: Breaking Dawn – Part 1 (Bill Condon, 2011)

 
 

Helena Bonham Carter

 
 

Laetita Casta. Photo: Mario Testino

 
 

Uma Thurman and Mikahil Baryshnikov as The Swan Prince. Photo: Arthur Elgort

 
 

Truman Capote styled his beautiful and wealthy female friends “swans”

 
 

Accompained by Lee Radziwill and Jane Haward

 
 

With socialité Babe Paley in Paris

 
 

Escorting CZ Guest

 
 

Capote and Gloria Vanderbilt Lumet arrive at New York’s 54th Street Theatre for the opening performance of Caligula., 16 Feb 1960

 
 

Gloria Vanderbilt ad campaigns

 
 

Ludwig II (Luchino Visconti, 1972). He was sometimes called the Swan King

 
 

Mirror, Mirror (Tarsem Singh, 2012)

 
 

Robert Redford and Mia Farrow in The Great Gatsby (Jack Clayton, 1974)

 
 

Leonardo di Caprio. Photo: Annie Leibovitz

 
 

Madonna. Photo: David LaChapelle

 
 

David Bowie

 
 

Ad campaign featured in Vogue, January 1997

 
 

Tory Burch swan-print wedge sandalias

 
 

Swan Evening dress by Charles James, 1951

 
 

Kate Moss wearing a Givenchy gown by Ricardo Tisci, Spring-Summer collection 2011

 
 

Giles Deacon Spring-Summer 2012 collection

 
 

Erin O’Connor wearing a gown by Alexander McQueen. Photo: Tim Walker

 
 

Eglingham Children and Swan on Beach, Tim Walker, 2002