Friday, 26 November 2010

Diaghilev at the V&A

YSL Ballets Russes Collections

Just finished yet another highly interesting day of lectures and a museum visit led by the amazing Clare Rose. This week's topic was exoticism in design around 1900 with a particular focus on Orientalism. Asia was perceived by Europeans as an intriguing, fantastical world and increasingly, Asian motifs and influences filtered into all areas of European design, from a Chinese style pagoda in Kew Gardens to the inclusion of a Japanese print in Van Gogh's 1889 self-portrait. She raised an interesting point that middle eastern women's dress with loose flowing fabric such as harem trousers and their covered faces were a total contrast to the corseted 'protected' female bodies of the west. Europeans believed this choice of loose dress immediately eluded to sexual connotations. The influence of Diaghilev's Ballets Russes from 1909 through to its economic collapse in 1929 was phenomenal. It unarguably revolutionized early 20th century arts and continues to influence cultural activity today. It is easy to see why this particular ballet company had such an astounding effect. The bold, bright costumes, Asian influenced dance movements unusual musical accompaniment defied everyone's common expectation of a ballet. The richly embellished costumes and incredibly elaborate set design are of real beauty and provide a wealth of inspiration. In the final room the male dance costumes of Giorgio de Chirico, which are highly influenced by architecture put further emphasis on the strong connection between fashion and architecture as discussed at last night's talk at the Barbican. His bold graphic use of line reminded me of Holly Fulton's print designs.

Designer Giorgio de Chirico's ballet costumes

Holly Fulton's Spring/Summer 11 Collection

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