Up until a few years ago specific fashion trends would be back on the runways after roughly ten years. The fashion rhythms have changed, though, and while the industry is still set on cyclical terms, trends tend to come back every five years now (see also yesterday's post).
Take Fortunato Depero. The Italian futurist was back in the news in 2009 when quite a few museums celebrated the 100th anniversary of Italian Futurism (the Futurist manifesto was published in 1909). For the occasion the Museo di Arte Moderna e Contemporanea di Trento e Rovereto (Mart - Museum of Modern and Contemporary Art of Trento and Rovereto) launched a special exhibition in which they tried to look at the influence the Italian Futurists had on the German and Russian avant-garde movements.
Depero actually remains the Italian Futurist with the strongest connections with fashion, as he created costume designs, theatrical sets, but also illustrations for adverts and, after the war, when he fled Italy to escape his association with Fascism (the passion of the Futurists for dynamism, new means of transport and the cult of speed naturally attracted Fascism to these artists who were rehabilitated in the following years), he designed scenes and costumes for the Roxy Theatre and for the American Sketches in New York. This was actually his second American experience since at the end of the '20s he had already worked in New York as illustrator for Vogue and Vanity Fair.
Depero created his first costumes in 1916 for a mimic-acrobatic ballet entitled Mimismagia, that featured geometrical designs that could be transformed and integrated elements that lit up and produced noises. In the same year he met Diaghilev, who commissioned him the scenes and the costumes for the Ballets Russes' Le Chant du Rossignol, with music by Stravinskij, and for Il giardino zoologico (The Zoological Garden) by Francesco Cangiullo with music by Ravel. These projects didn't see the light in the end, but the drafts Depero left us showed the great innovative and creative forces behind his work.
Depero resurfaced during Milan Fashion Week thanks to Piazza Sempione: the brand, recently acquired by the Sinv Group, celebrated its return to the Milanese runways with a special presentation at Palazzo Ponti, an event launched in collaboration with the Museum of Modern and Contemporary Art of Trento and Rovereto (Mart).
The Spring/Summer 2015 collection has a strong link with the historical archive of Fortunato Depero as it borrows from the painting "Rotazione di ballerina e pappagalli" (Rotation of Dancer and Parrots, 1917). The work was on display during the presentation and the collection was showcased in three-dimensional theatre vignettes with backgrounds inspired by Depero's works.
"Rotazione di ballerina e pappagalli" was inspired by kinetic energy and Depero painted it while he was working for Diaghilev. In the painting the mechanised ballerina pirouettes in a sort of constantly accelerated vortex-like movement, drawing around her bold shapes and generating vibrantly vivid colours such as blue, red, yellow, green and pink, while the giant parrots add to the piece a fable-like visionary dimension.
Piazza Sempione's Spring/Summer 2015 collection focuses on quality and details, the heritage of the brand founded in 1991 by a family of Italian entrepreneurs well connected with the world of art.
Clean lines, a precise cut and simple and stark shapes prevailed in the functional and practical separates (poplin shirts, squarish tops and Capri pants...) that had a masculine touch about them and that incorporated prints of a section of Depero's painting. The basic dresses, still characterised by a geometric rigour, featured at times three-dimensional white-on-white embellishments and decorative patterns that recreated Depero's lines with sequins. The main fabrics were cotton canvas and organza.
Depero's visionary and dynamic figures have recently appeared also in the Missoni A/W 2014 Campaign by M/M Paris shot by photographer Viviane Sassen.
Models clad in graphic designs are standing among archaeological ruins next to bizarre figures made out of geometrical forms, and looking like rigid and mysterious, yet colourful and playful alien-like robots.
While some of the colour combinations in the models' clothes call to mind Depero's futurist waistcoats (there are actually a few Futurist garments by Depero and Giacomo Balla in the collection of Rosita and her late husband Ottavio Missoni) and the palettes employed for his Campari and Strega adverts or his covers for fashion magazines, the robotic figures look as if they may have stepped out of the costume drafts for the Chant du Rossignol costumes, from Depero's Balli Plastici (Plastic Ballets) or from his mechanical ballet Anihccam del 3000.
Sassen injected in the images all her trademark passion for forms and shapes, objectifying the human body and allowing the graphic designs donned by the models to create a correspondence with the abstract robotic forms.
The result looks sophisticated, but also fresh, ironic and fun, creating bridges between art and fashion in an unusually inventive way that looks at the past while projecting the shoot in the future.
Last but not least, since your eyes will have been satisfied at the end of this post, here's something for your ears: if you're looking for music with a Depero twist, check out the recently released album "DangereuXorcisms" by NAD (Neu Abdominaux Dangereux), digitally distributed by Kutmusic.
A mix of futurism and avant-garde music, the album blends jazz,electronica, vintage spoken samples and musical quotes from film and TV soundtracks. The cover is also inspired by Depero (like the band's debut release - "Ghosts" - that came out 25 years ago). Looks like we're living in very Depero times and you'd better enjoy them.
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