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Gucci Museo

A couple of weeks ago I took a visit the the Gucci Museum.  This incredible museum archived the history of the past 90 years of the Gucci label. The museum is broken down by themes and most icon items for Gucci. Some of the themes include Logomania, Lifestyle, Bamboo, Travel, and Handbags. There were some iconic Gucci dresses made famous by modern actresses.

An interesting aspect about Gucci is that they not only paid an incredible attention to detail with their predictable fashion items, but they also created unique items to entertain different types of costumers. For example, there was an elaborate travel game set that was uniquely Gucci.

Visiting the Gucci Museum was a unique experience because it made you feel like a client. The entrance was very formal; I was personally escorted and given a basic layout of the museum as I entered. Those small details are what make an experience memorable, something that fashion labels aim to do. This technique draws clients in and makes them feel like they are part of an exclusive club.

-Genevieve

Diana Vreeland

This was a great documentary.  When studying something like the History of Dress, going back hundreds of years to the beginning of fashion is important; but, understanding how much has happened in the last 50 years will explain how we got to where we are much quicker.

Diana Vreeland’s influence seems to have taken the ideal of beauty from the 1950’s blonde, perfect housewife style to celebrating a woman’s faults and making those the most interesting and beautiful part.   Because she describes herself as “not beautiful”, I think she dug deeper and found other aspects of her personality to make beautiful… For example, style,  humor, quirks, dressing with bold prints, self-confidence, etc. Of course, I think she is beautiful.  She is elegant, sophisticated, well-kept, creative, and revolutionary.

She reminds me of my favorite style period, the mid-late 60’s mod and the refinement of the early 70’s, more specifically, how Mrs. Robinson was dressed in 1967’s, The Graduate. Image Image

Look at all those prints! Diana, I am sure, would have approved because she felt,

“I’ve never met a leopard print I didn’t like.”

She was not just a fashion junkie. As the editor of Harper’s Bazaar, she brought in music, culture, and art. The first picture published in the U.S. of Mick Jagger was done by Diana. The photographer, David Bailey, had offered the shot to British Vogue but they didn’t know who he was and didn’t want it.  Diana saw it, didn’t know who he was, but said, “I don’t care who he is, but he looks great and we’ll publish it.”  This was in 1964 when the Rolling Stones were still an unknown band in both the U.S. and England.  Now I wonder how much this publication jump started the bands ultimately huge success…  Image

 

Another interesting thing she said,

“I certainly didn’t learn anything in school. My education was the world.”

Not belittling school, but I agree with her that you cannot expect that just attending school with give you wisdom.  There is so much more than just a person’s schooling that makes you interesting, open, and clever.  Diana is just so cool.

One thing I’ve noticed in many of these fashion documentaries we’ve been watching, the world renowned protagonist usually had a mother that told her how ugly she was as a child. Diana says about her mother,

“I admire the fact that she was very good looking…She would say, “it’s too bad you have such a beautiful sister and you are so extremely ugly.””

It’s ironic that Diana became such a refined, lovely lady who saw beauty in others. I wonder if the mother saw something in young Diana and tried to squash it. I am glad that it didn’t work out that way.  The joke was on her.

 

Sarah Massoud

Diana Vreeland: The Eye Has to Travel

Last week we watched “Diana Vreeland: The Eye Has to Travel”. This intimate documentary gave us an incredible look into the career and life of Diana Vreeland. This was a woman who revolutionized the fashion world by bringing inspiration from her own life and modern culture.

Considered ugly from her childhood, Diana gained inspiration from the many places she traveled, evolution in women’s dress, and dance. She started her career by happenstance, an invitation to work for a fashion magazine based on the dress she was wearing. Thankfully she accepted, and began a revolutionary article all about incredible “what ifs”. Later she became the fashion editor of Harper’s Bazaar.

Diana took this position on fearlessly. She transformed the boring, sexist articles for females into the most revolutionary ideas of beauty and fashion. She was one of the first editors to bring such strong attention to celebrities and models by using them in the most unique ways in magazine spreads. Diana also drew inspiration from far away countries and cultures. Nowhere was too far to find inspiration .

Diana was demanding in her career but it reaped incredible results. She never settled and could not be surprised. She was inspired by things that were not normally praised or recognized before, and that ballsy attitude is what really transformed the fashion world into what it is today.

-Genevieve

Scatter My Ashes at Bergdorf’s

A couple of weeks ago we watched “Scatter My Ashes of Bergdorf’s”. This documentary gave us an inside look into the most prestigious department store in America. Starting with it’s history, Bergdorf Goodman is the epitome of the American Dream. It began with a creative team that wanted to create a luxury experience for shoppers, which soon grew into an empire that conquers an entire block in New York City. Today, aspiring designers dream of having their brand sold inside the doors of Bergdorf Goodman, and the select few who do, have truly made it in the fashion industry.

The incredibly economic success at Bergdorf Goodman’s really says a lot about the importance of fashion in modern day society. This does not only apply to the rich and famous, because we have continued to see a growing interest in fashion when it comes to fashion shows and exhibitions, which continue to sell out and reach record numbers in attendance.

Throughout it’s history, Bergdorf Goodman has become an American icon. Countless celebrities and important figures have shopped there, as well as worked exclusively with designers associated with Bergdorf’s. Another iconic aspect of Bergdorf Goodman’s is their window displays. These elaborate displays are artfully created and pay particular attention to exquisite detail and design. I was actually fortunate enough to see the animal displays that were shown in the film!

This was a wonderful documentary, a truly eye-opening experience about the business and history of an incredible department store. I can’t wait to go back someday with a fuller appreciation of its history and value.

-Genevieve

MAZZANTI Atelier

Relationship between art and fashion

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After visiting the Mazzanti workroom, I began to think about the designers like Capucci who use the same technique.  The clothing made by the people in that small Tuscan workroom and made by designer Capucci are more than fashion, they are also art

What Capucci attempts to do is more difficult than just making a gown or just making a piece of art, such as a sculpture or a painting; his creations are designed to be worn on a human body, like a walking painting. The uniqueness of his gowns is the fact that he only makes an exclusive original piece; no one else will own the same dress. 

This kind of designing is as much technical as it is creative and beautiful. From sketch to actual construction of a gown, there is a lot to work out. How do those sculptured dresses stay crisp and in their place while being formed around the curvy shape of a woman’s body?  Also, his style can reflect artistic periods of the past. For example, he drew from Ancient Rome with his baroque dress forms and geometric designs reflecting Ancient Greek and Roman precision.

On the visit to the plissé producer in Florence, we were shown the complicated process of designing and shaping the geometric forms. He had actually made a design for Capucci and showed us the complicated process.  He started by showing us the cardboard-like material he uses to make the patterns before they place the fabric between two cardboard pieces.  Then, they place the tightly bound cardboard in a steamer so it can hold its shape.  The cardboard is special because it does not retain heat and only allows the fabric to be shaped by the steam; in this way, he can reuse the cardboard guide more than once. He dreams up all the designs and told us that he studied math in Liceo, which helped him be able to do this sort of work. All in all, it is hard to deny the amount of thought, time, and construction it takes to make a single gown.  It is more like Capucci and the lovely, dedicated people at Mazzanti are designing like an architect and in this way, their fashion designs are closely linked to art.

Sarah Massoud

 

Mazzanti Piume Atelier

 

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A few weeks ago we visited the Mazzanti Piume Atelier. This incredible textile production workshop gave us an intimate look into the design and production of textiles. We started the tour by looking at a wall COVERED in cardboard textile designs. I had no idea there were so many possibilities! Really, the possibilities for textiles can reach as far as the mind can create. I thought it was  especially interesting that some of these textiles changed shape when they were opened and closed.

We were also shown how textiles were pressed into fabrics and other materials. This step requires multiple people and close attention to detail to ensure the fabric and textile is aligned properly. I loved seeing all of the textile examples he had to show us once they were finished. The textures were incredible!

As difficult it is to create a textile, destroying one is far easier. Depending on the material, many textiles can be released from the fabric simply by ironing it out. Then the work begins again! Finally we were shown how finer textiles were pressed into paper, as they are too difficult to press out manually. These machines are very helpful but are somewhat slow and create a lot of heat when used.

What I can take away from this experience is that in order to be a textile designer you must be extremely creative and patient. No wonder there are so few left in Italy! I appreciated seeing the time and care that it took to create just one textile design. I also want to give a shoutout to one of the sweetest dogs ever, Swea!!!

-Genevieve

 

Gucci Museo

The Gucci Museo was very interesting to see. I always knew that Guccio Gucci and the creative directors that followed him were very talented designers and the brand has become iconic, but I did not know the extent of the product lines throughout the history of the brand. These included uggage, car interiors, handbags, other accessories, and lifestyle merchandise for the home and everyday life. Gucci clearly had a good sense of “lifestyle branding” even before it was a popular goal for designers. He made it possible for the Gucci products to be a part of each moment in a person’s life and communicate luxury whether in the car, in the kitchen, or in the closet.

It is clear from looking through this exhibit that quality was and is a key element for the Gucci label, and the quality was and is a key element for the Gucci label, and the quality remained consistent across the various product lines. When a consumer sees the GG logo, it evokes a sense of class and brand history that Guccio Gucci wanted to communicate. I liked seeing the “Logomania” room because of this. One of the written introductions even said that the logo is now a “symbol of heritage in modernity.” The logo placed so obviously on many of these pieces is a way for the consumer to communicate his or her status. This would attract many to purchase items from the Gucci label, in addition to the fact that high quality is assumed with anything containing GG.

My absolute favorite portion of the museum was the evening wear section. It is one thing to see a beautiful gown on the red carpet, but it is another thing entirely to see them up close in real life. The level of skill required to create these gowns is highly evident when looking at the detailed beading and stitching. It is pieces like this that, in my opinion, classify fashion as an art form.

 

–Rachel Weaver

Diana Vreeland

Diana Vreeland…where to begin? She truly was one of a kind. In life, her overt personality could be perceived in a negative way, but in fashion, her novel point of view was a breath of fresh air. She revolutionized the world of fashion print by taking Harper’s Bazaar and VOGUE from women’s magazines to new outlooks on fashion and its role in our lives. In the film, there was one point when she said her goal was to give people what they weren’t getting at home. She was referring to fantasy. She added an element of fantasy to the magazines, and fantasy sells. Her utilization of this concept created new desire for the magazines, and her instinctive ability to choose content for the magazines’ spreads was unparalleled.

My favorite aspect of this woman is her strong appreciation of all things unique. She celebrated oddity when others wrote it off as “ugly.” But Diana, being a bit odd-looking herself, capitalized on those very elements which one might see as unattractive. It takes an incredible person to go against the grain the way she did. Her story is inspiring for all who have ever felt insecure because of something “ugly” about themselves.

I also appreciate her ability to see beyond a person’s appearance, as if into their soul. She was attracted to those who had unseen traits, beneath the surface, that most people would not find by looking at a person. Her goal was to capture those qualities and share them with the world. For an industry that thrives on appearance, Diana recognized that the real interest was not appearance based, rather, it was a demeanor, posture, or underlying inner nature that makes people interesting and attractive.

-Rachel Weaver

The Stibbert Museum

 

 

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A few weeks ago I visited the Stibbert Museum, located on the Northern end of Florence. This grand museum contained over 36,000 artifacts, and the museum itself is elaborately decorated floor to ceiling. Some of the collections inside included European Armory, Islamic Armory, Japanese Armory, Paintings, and Ceramics.

One interesting aspect about the museum is that it requires you to view the museum in grouped tours. The small group I joined up with unfortunately only spoke Italian so I tried to in as much as I could visually. One commonality that I noticed with all the armories was that although they were all associated stylistically with their region, they all were elaborately decorated and adorned with the finest metals and materials. This somewhat shocked me that so much work would be put into clothing that was likely to get damaged or destroyed. However, if these items were used by men of power, I could understand the importance of appearance when it came to representing your country and its power.

I really appreciated how every room was adorned in decor that fit the period and region represented by the artifacts. It really added to the grand effect of war and transported you into a different time and place. I couldn’t possibly imagine the value of this museum from what I saw.

Though the subject material was not my favorite in this museum, I felt that just walking through the rooms was an incredible experience to have. I would recommend this museum to any war or history buff.

-Genevieve

Palazzo Pitti~Galleria del Costume

Most interesting: The burial dress for Eleonora di Toledo. I was surprised that she would be buried in this long and elegant white gown. However, white was the color of ‘enlightenment’ and was worn on on both your marriage day and your burial day.  By the way it is hemmed, it is clear that she wore platform heels, another intriguing style of the time that I wasn’t aware of.   The trim of the gown was made with silver thread and black velvet, so it was very shiny in its day. There is a corset on the gown but the “V” shape is not as dramatic as it will become in later time. Historians were lucky that whomever dressed her accidentally turned one of her stalkings inside out because it gives more information to analyze.  An uplifting story, the Queen refused to use the stalking loom for she knew there were many lower class women whose livelihood depended on producing these; with the invention of a machine that could do their work, the women would have no job and the Queen did not want to take that away.

Most regal: The blue robe of Donna Franca Florio  by Ventura Atelier (1925-1930).The  colors reminding us of the Royal Savoia Family who ruled in Italy until 1861.

Donne protagoniste del Novecento - Donna Franca Florio - Galleria del Costume Firenze - Nov 2013

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Most flashy: Of course, the whole room in which Patty Pravo’s wardrobe was displayed was very modern and theatrical, so of course the clothing was too.  Patty is an Italian pop singer whose first song debuted in 1966 “Ragazzo triste”, the Italian version of Sonny & Cher’s “But You’re Mine”, and was the first pop song ever to be played on Vatican Radio. This is a silver mesh  gown by Gianni Versace she wore to the Sanremo Festival in 1984.

Donne protagoniste del Novecento - Patty Pravo, Sanremo 84, abito Gianni Versace - Galleria del Costume Firenze - Nov 2013

Most inspiring/touching: The wedding dress room was sweet to see. Most single women admire wedding gowns to relate to what they want their wedding dress to look like or for already married women, which dress is most similar to the one they wore. The gowns date back from the 1910’s – 1980’s with simple, modest styles to more elegant and beaded gowns. My favorite was this one below by Norman Hartnell worn by Lady Ethel Sykes in 1937.   It has a simple, elegant shape with intricate beading and a timeless style that brides today would even wear. Hartnell, a British fashion designer, was the Royal Dressmaker for Queen Elizabeth II, her mother, and also dressed Lady Margaret (Queen Elizabeth’s sister), seen in the second dress below. I would not have minded if he did my wedding gown too…

Donne protagoniste del Novecento - Wedding dresses - Galleria del Costume Firenze - Nov 2013

My  overall impressions: The museum was probably my favorite that we have visited so far.  All the pieces were elegantly displayed, as they should be in the Pitti Palace.  There was no chance of getting bored because the exhibit had dresses that were 100’s of years apart from each other, hats, jewelry, and historical pieces. My brain was fed as well as my eyes.  I will definitely be going back.

Sarah Massoud