As a follow up to yesterday's post, here's the third and final part of the Diabolik essay that started on Friday.
III. Diabolik: From the Big Screen to the Runway
"Diabolik is a legend, we’ve been reading it since we were young. He is a male icon: he’s got a perfect body, a beautiful woman and lives in amazing hideouts. Yet he is also a robber and a thief with a penchant for diamonds. Deep down, we are all criminals like him…" Dolce & Gabbana (Interview on La Gazzetta dello Sport, 3rd March 2008)
Almost fifty years after Diabolik first came out, this anti-hero still fascinates its readers: every month old issues and new stories are released in Italy by the Astorina publishing house, currently run by Mario Gomboli, an early collaborator of the Giussani sisters.
Diabolik is still stealing, robbing and escaping Ginko, but, like fashion, he has also changed and developed throughout the decades: often seized by the authorities in the’60 for being immoral, as the years passed the character turned into an almost positive figure and his firm beliefs in friendship, honour and loyalty, transformed him into a sensitive anti-hero, often employed in campaigns against dangerous driving and drugs.
In the meantime, artificial and superficial, yet enchantingly beautiful, Bava’s Danger: Diabolik managed to influence with its combination of fashion, music, action, humour, comic-book style and cinematic innovation not only directors such as Roman Coppola, who referenced it in his 2001 film CQ, but also many fashion designers.
Interestingly enough, it wasn’t the dark asthetic of the comic that inspired designers, but Bava’s intoxicating use of colours.
Quite a few designers used Bava’s shades as psychological triggers: in a photoshoot by Guy Bourdin that appeared in Vogue France in December 1979, the seminal photographer portrayed a mysterious figure clad in a black body-suit and bright face painting make-up, stealing precious jewels.
In the States, Mario Bava's movie inspired the video for the Beastie Boys' hit "Body Movin'" (1998), a parody of Danger: Diabolik that also featured a few selected clips from Bava's film, while in Italy different brands produced gadgets, clothes and accessories that paid homage to the infamous anti-hero.
In 2008, Fiat even dedicated him a limited edition of its iconic 500 car, but fashion remains the main industry positively inspired by the comic book characters.
Dolce & Gabbana displayed an ongoing fascination with Diabolik: D&G’s Autumn/Winter 2007-08 menswear collection featured jackets and accessories in black contrasting with bold shades of yellow, red and electric blue with occasional splashes of gold, while the duo’s Autumn/Winter 2008-09 menswear collection included tight shirts and sweatshirts with prints taken from the Diabolik comic and narrow ties inspired by the anti-hero’s style.
Besides, the Italian design duo often claimed Brazilian model Gisele Bündchen represents for them an incarnation of sensual Eva Kant (View this photo).
Also Diabolik’s partner had her influence on fashion and style. Eva’s grommet jacket and bikini resurfaced quite a few times in fashion: in the ’90 I Love Diamonds created a pair of grommeted sandals.
Grommeted jackets reappeared in L.A.M.B. and Givenchy’ 2007 and 2008 collections. Grommets actually resurface pretty often at Givenchy's on dresses, tops, vests, bags and shoes: check out for example this dress from the S/S 2011 collection - View this photo.
John Richmond reused this motif in the accessories from the Autumn/Winter 2010 collection and grommets decorated the leather collars and belts of Balenciaga’s Spring/Summer 2011 collection and a beret featured in the Galliano S/S 2011 eyewear campaign (View this photo).
A while back, footwear designer Ruthie Davis stated in an interview that she was obsessed with the punch-out bikini Eva wore in the film and designed a pump inspired by it that featured grommets and a titanium wedge.
Besides, Davis’ Spring/Summer 2009 collection, featuring ankle strap sandals with translucent heels in fluo colours, was a homage to Pop Art and Diabolik’s heroine Eva Kant.
As the designer stated: “The bright colours used in the film totally inspired me, in fact I have an original Italian Danger: Diabolik movie poster in my office right above my desk. It is huge and it has all of these vivid colours, it’s my Bible. My muse is actually Diabolik’s partner, Eva Kant. In the Mario Bava movie Eva is a totally Mod, chic and hip ’60s chick and I always picture my shoes on her. I think the Mario Bava film is beyond fashionable, it is in every way gorgeous, sexy, tasteful, innovative and appealing on so many levels.“
Italian brand Sisley created a Diabolik line for the Spring/Summer 2010 season featuring T-shirts and tops with images taken from the Giussani comic. While the men’s line was rather plain, women’s looks had a sort of Bava-esque glamour added via sequins and appliquéd sparkling gems.
During Prada’s Autumn/Winter 2010 catwalk show, the models’ perfectly upswept hairstyles were reminiscent of Jeanne Moreau’s in Joseph Losey’s Eva and Eva Kant’s in the Giussani comic.
Sensuality was channelled in this collection via ’60s silhouettes, topiary-style ruffles, ruches and lace appliquéd around the chest area or cut-out motifs under the breasts, elements that appeared in the early styles sported by Eva Kant in the Diabolik comic.
An image of Eva Kant also appeared on a poster for a jewellery event featuring Bijules’ Jules Kim organised in Italy in October 2010 (View this photo), while Ruthie Davis seems to have been inspired once again by the bold colours of the Danger: Diabolik poster for her Spring/Summer 2012 collection that features high-heel platform pumps in bright shades.
There is currently a renewed interest in Diabolik as film icon, after the recent deal for an Italo-French TV series in 6 episodes.
Coming from a wealthy middle-class family part of the Milanese jet set, Angela and Luciana Giussani could have had an easy life.
Working in a male-centred society, they chose instead to dedicate their careers to an innovative noir comic book, leading a life marked by battles against censors, tight deadlines and long office hours.
Yet, through their iconic dark anti-hero, the Giussani sisters made remarkable achievements that remained unmatched for decades, unexpectedly turning from “queens of terror” into “queens of style”.
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