Posts tagged ‘style’

March 7, 2013

Impressionism, Fashion and Modernity @ the Met

Impressionism, I believe, is probably the most popular and adored of the art movements. When confronted by works created by masters such as Monet, Manet and Renoir, I believe very few do not experiment a sense of awe and amusement. The special exhibition Impressionism, Fashion and Modernity at the Metropolitan Museum of Art, however, subtly lets us into the backstage of the construction of this powerful unanimity that circles impressionist painting, taking us right back to the trenches from which it emerged: the Parisian high society.

When reading about it, at first, I figured the exhibition would just cater to a certain historical curiosity, allowing us to literally immerse ourselves in the fabric of time and materialize the impressions of textures the artists had delivered. What was waiting for me there was instead a very relevant contribution to the comprehension of the Impressionism movement as a integral part of the French society, an art embedded in the small politics of relevance that we may not fail to spot in the art scene of our days, but we might forget was also present even when the works in question hold, as of present, the status of undeniable masterpieces.

The Impressionist movement relates to modern ideals in that it both denies and affirms the perennial by emphasizing the present, the moment; representation is embraced as such and detaches from the contradictory obsessions for both ideal and reality that permeates art in the days of yore. The ephemerous, the impression, gains immense importance, being, in fact, what is truly worthy to be captured. And portraits cease to function as documents meant for posterity that idealize their objects as great warriors, lords or saints and instead become a statement of their personality and uniqueness: enters style as an immense part of this equation.

The first piece of the show is a very fine green and black striped silk-taffeta dress that was worn by Monet’s wife Camille as she modeled for one of his paintings. Through the subtile curatorship, we are led to understand how the fashion in the pictures would attract curiosity and interest as much as it does now in celebrity pictures and Vogue Magazine. It was the majestic dress that has caught the eye of the viewers in the salon where the painting was first exposed.

A painting then was as powerful a status indicator as being invited to shoot an editorial could be, except the concept here was far broader, extending to intellectual and personal wealth implications in a way that being cover of Harpers’ Bazaar never will. The most fashionable ladies, on the other hand, were also and simultaneously the best sources for great composition — that´s when you realize the colors and the textures and the ruffles and laces were all there, were sewn together by someone and worn by someone else that mattered to a picture because they were in possession of them, and not the opposite — and the finest patrons available for an artist, as they used their influence to get the works in which they had modeled into the finest exhibitions and salons, making sure they would grant their portraits the status of great art.

To be immersed in the particularities of real life instead of the usual larger than life feel I get from the Impressionism movement made me actually feel closer to understanding what it was truly about. Somehow, the ego-trips  inspired by Facebook and Instagram today seem a bit less current when we are confronted with this century old brand of vanity, the same look-at-me-being-tremendously-charming-while-I-take-my-gloves-off-and-by-the-way-this-is-art-OK?-not-just-me-showing-off-my-designer-clothes-and-being-pretty sort of thing made possible by such powerful artists. Who can say to which point they truly subscribed to portraying the mundane, even though they did it so remarkably? It is made clear in the exhibition that the likes of Monet and Renoir clearly understood that, on top of the aesthetic revolution they were proposing and of the truth behind their own brand of modernity, there was good fame and money to be made out of reframing the superfluous routines and interests of the upper classes into art.

(all pictures from the internet due to the fact they were — theoretically — not allowed to be taken)

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February 28, 2013

The me trends

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Sneakers and black and white and the nineties are all the rage, but blue fingernails and red polish on your toes are even more so. At least, with me.

It started during American presidential elections so maybe the choice of color was somewhat unconsciously inspired by politics, but the fact is those colors, combined, remind me instead of Superman (which are intentionally the same as the American flag, I know; Superman IS America, both a farm boy who made it in town and a hero, each side of his personality also one of the Great Struggle for Freedom).

Blue nails work beautifully with red hair, so it’s been hard to get over that. Red toe nails are good with every shoe there is. Together, they make me feel like a superhero; how can this sentiment be overcome?

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This is to convey a less superficial point than to simply advise you to follow my personal nail embellishment mania. In fact, I think the me trends are the ones that make our personality surface. There is a lot to be said about the likes of Wintour or Lagerfeld: if anything, they have a signature style, something so rooted in their self images it never gets more than slight alterations. On the other hand, most people do change (see: family album) but those who do it in spite of themselves are the weirdest to watch throughout the years.

I think we always should give in to our personal convictions regarding style, in spite of what is said or seen on the scene. Don’t try anything you feel is ridiculous or do indulge in something you are dying to try even though no one said you should.

On a side note: pink and green have been really da thing for a while now. That is, for me (pink pants, green shoes, red toe nails — put on a white blouse and it will work with the blue on your hands, too!).

November 29, 2012

Fashion values: the unbearable balance between being unique and on trend

My very own bowler-deemed-cloche hat from Marc by Marc Jacobs, courtesy of the Outnet

Is it just me, or everyone instantly thinks of Milan Kundera when confronted with the word “unbearable”? Nevermind that; let us enjoy however the fact that we (I) were (was) reminded of one of his great novels, a particular one which pays homage to the bowler hat at a certain crucial point — The Unbearable Lightness of Being is what we are talking about, friends — and linger on the headpiece for a few minutes.

(…)

Hats are, I believe, a great transition point in terms of personal style. When one decides to wear such headpiece on a regular basis, an important point has been made: “I truly don´t care if you think I look ridiculous”. The fact is that unless you are Queen Elizabeth II, your hat may be passionately criticized by the public in general, not in the constructive way; let us remember that most of the regular people — those who think Anna Dello who? is a weird, crazy woman, A.K.A the majority of the population living on Earth — find Philip Treacy fascinators absolutely ridiculous.

However, when moving back to the fashion grounds — meaning those places in which the letters A,D,R have a meaning as obvious as F,D,R do — your choice of hat will speak even more loudly of the commitments your soul has made to sartorialism: will you go with tradition, emulating gangsters with a fedora, early twentieth-century starlets with a cloche, Fred Astaire with a top hat…? Or will you prefer to instead pay homage to a Cézanne painting — or Carmen Miranda, it all depends on your own personal references — and go for a piece rather similar to a basket of fruit?

What is unique, and what is trendy, when it comes to wearing hats? Everything or nothing? Is there a hat equivalent to what Isabel Marant wedge sneakers meant to fashion this year (this is extreme rhetorics, as the obvious answer is NO)? In fact, what kind of opportunities are created and destroyed for a fashionista when such a massive takeover occurs — should one stay true to the sneakers because even though they do not display one´s unique eye for style anymore, they are still rather cool; perhaps more importantly, they are so now? On the other hand, how far from whatever is so now can one go for the sake of outlining strong personality and still be fashionable? To me, there is clearly a dialogue between trend and not that for its subtlety, makes it all the more magical when a look really works — try to notice how originality actually emerges from very private dialogues between the old and the new.

Hats are, to me, the epitome of such discussion between uniqueness and trendiness — because there is very little else that strongly evocates timelessness and at the same time, as strong and potentially insane as this particular accessory; the attitude, here, comes from deciding to tell your own story in the form of a thing you will wear on your head.

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