The images show models clad in futuristic designs by Germana Marucelli during a very special event, a sort of performance-cum-catwalk show organised to celebrate Rome’s premiere of Stanley Kubrik's film 2001: A Space Odyssey.
I have already made some connections with this film and the Autumn/Winter 2010-11 collections in a previous post, yet in that occasion I didn’t get any chance to mention these images.
In the Italian history of fashion Marucelli is considered a sort of pioneer à la Schiaparelli: way before Paco Rabanne created his metal dresses, Germana Marucelli had already been experimenting with aluminium armour/shield-like designs, inspired by the sculptures of her friend Getulio Alviani.
A few designs in aluminium by Marucelli were actually used in this photo shoot (there is also the headdress that appeared on the cover of Domina - see third and fifth image in this post).
As a teenager Marucelli worked with her aunt in Florence and often went to Paris where she observed and assimilated everything she saw and, thanks to her visual memory, learnt to perfectly reproduce the designs she saw on the French runways.
She then started working for the Ventura tailoring house, and, when Fascism imposed Italian designers to support the national products and forbade them to copy French models, Marucelli kept on going to Parisian fashion shows, rebelling to Fascism’s fashion rules.
The designer was fined and even sued for not abiding to the Fascist regulations.
After the war broke out, and after the flat one of her wealthy clients, Flora d’Elys, had given her in Milan burnt down, Marucelli kept on creating fashion in Stresa where Flora and many other wealthy ladies were living. Some of her creations from those times anticipated Dior’s New Look.
At the end of the war, rather than going back to copying French designs, Marucelli settled onto creating her own maison and distinctive style, surrounding herself with many artists and intellectuals, such as Giuseppe Ungaretti, Alberto Savinio, Eugenio Montale and Salvatore Quasimodo.
From then on Marucelli’s name became synonymous with pioneering styles: she introduced a sort of poetical Dolce Stil Novo fashion in 1951 with elegant Empire styles, took part in many fashion and art initiatives in support of the Made in Italy and in the "Fashion Ocean Liner" event, a fashion-cruise bound for the United States, during which wealthy noblewomen modelled the creations from early Italian fashion houses (modelling became a professional job only in later years).
The most interesting aspect about Marucelli, apart from her talent for fashion, is the fact that she surrounded herself with intellectuals (extremely different from what happens nowadays…how many designers surround themselves with proper intellectuals?) and even launched literary prizes (amazing for today’s standards...).
Marucelli's entire career was based on vital collaborations with other artists: together with set-designer and artist Pietro Zuffi she created at the end of the 40s a collection inspired by Peruvian art; painter Campigli came up with motifs for her 1951 Spring-Summer collection and, in later designs, she paid homage to Picasso, Beato Angelico and Botticelli.
In the 60s Marucelli took inspiration for her Empire line from Giacomo Manzù’s sculptures of bishops, created optical designs inspired by Giuseppe Capogrossi’s black and white geometries and collaborated with artist and architect Paolo Scheggi and with experimental artist Getulio Alviani.
The latter was well known for his experiments with light, movement and kinetic art and Germana Marucelli was fascinated by his works based on contrasts between light and shadow/black and white/positive and negative.
As mentioned earlier on, some of the designs featured in the De Antonis photo shoot – the last fashion reportage he made – in celebration of 2001: A Space Odyssey were actually inspired by Getulio Alviani: among the others there was also a design that incorporated a metal disk in the upper half of the garment that provided movement when the light reflected onto it.
Reviewing the Spring- Summer fashion shows in Palazzo Pitti in January 1965, Irene Brin wrote: “Germana Marucelli makes op-art, optical art, kinetic art popular (...). Germana has demonstrated once again her personal coherency, as she continuously updates herself through her contact with artists. We can be certain that she will not bow to conformity, and she proves this not only with the op-boutique but also with a high fashion which is youthful and brilliant, full of movement for daytime wear, tapered and regal for the evening apparel.”
De Antonis’ work was strongly influenced by paintings and modern art and this is clear from the colours and style of his photo shoot in which he also managed to conjure up a blurred Space Odyssey palette.
There is also another connection between De Antonis' shoot and Cole's video: both feature futuristic fashion designs.
In 1967-68 Marucelli redefined the future through metallic elements that turned women into modern robots; Rodarte have in mind a different vision of the future, slightly more apocalyptic, with Amazon women wrapped up in dark leather bandages and nude crocheted elements with just a hint of fluorescent colours.
It's interesting to see how, in the 60s, there was more optimism towards space discoveries, the future held hopeful promises and there was still a lot of excitement about a utopian Space Age (besides, there was also a strong will to celebrate a film premiere through a fashion and culture event at an art gallery rather than just with a big party crowded with silly celebrities and obnoxious poseurs...).
Our vision for the future in 2010 seems instead to be rather negative: the future is a sort of dystopian
place riddled with anxiety and fears generated by the mysteries behind the discoveries made by modern science and technology, the disillusionment caused by the disasters that marked space exploration and the environmental catastrophes threatening us on a daily basis.
While I do feel that Cole's video is extremely modern and well-made and that it cleverly tackles the issue of modern fears about technology and science through its protagonist, I can't help being a bit biased towards De Antonis' work.
After all when he did his photo shoot there was no Photoshop or special effects, yet he perfectly managed - also thanks to Marucelli's designs - to reach that final space frontier that nowadays seems to scare us so much.Member of the Boxxet Network of Blogs, Videos and Photos Member of the Boxxet Network of Blogs, Videos and Photos Add to Technorati Favorites Lijit Search