Encoding Modern Fashion

The February 14, 2016 issue of the New York Times Style Magazine printed two very interesting articles, The New Power Dressing by Sarah Nicole Prickett and Under Appreciated photographed by Charlotte Wales and styled by Elodie David-Touboul.  Both articles visually appropriate patterns/motifs and dance from ancient history, in order to encode a message.

The looks are from the Spring Collections for 2016 from Gucci, Celine and Versace.  I am intrigued with the skirt from Gucci.

Decorative Patterns of the Ancient World 001
Photo Credit: Yannis Vlamos, Marcus Tondo, Modica Feudi/Indigital Images, for The New York Times Style Magazine 2016.

Immediately, the skirt reminds me of an Etruscan Pontic amphora vase painted by the Paris Painter of four women. The waistband of smaller narrow triangles separated by a formal border delineates a register of a combination of marine life (snakes, frogs, and fish (egg layers all are also thought to bring wealth and fertility to the household, in various parts of Europe), rosettes and a heraldic pose of perhaps lions/lionesses. The Lion Gate, a relief sculpture of two lionesses or lions in a heraldic pose symbolizing guardians of the gate were discovered at the main entrance of the Bronze Age citadel of Mycenae in southern Greece.  The middle register enclosed  by a border of palmettos supported by spirals and a border of small triangles contains fantastical creatures and a serpent/snake and the background is ornamented with rosettes of various sizes.  The bottom register depicts what could be a collection of two-headed griffins.   Cerberus, the two-headed dog guarded the entrance to Hades while griffins guarded treasure and priceless possessions.  The larger narrow triangles create the hem of the skirt.  The woman that wears this skirt possesses divine power, guards her treasure and and decides her own destiny.  Fertility, prosperity and protection.  The fabric design of the skirt reflects ancient costume too.

Ancient Patterns and Modern Fashion 001
Detail of the Francois vase, showing goddesses attending a wedding.  Note the dress friezed with scenes.  Image from Prehistoric Textiles by E.J.W. Barber, Princeton University Press, 1981.

Two photographs taken by Charlotte Wales and styled by Elodie David-Touboul also expertly adopt and adapt ancient celebration/dance for modern day fashion.  What do you think?

Ancient Patterns and Modern Fashion 002
Photo credit: Charlotte Wales, Styled by Elodie David-Touboul for The New York Times Style Magazine 2016.
Ancient Patterns and Modern Fashion 003
Photo credit: Charlotte Wales, styled by Elodie David-Touboul for The New York Times Style Magazine 2016.
Ancient Patterns and Modern Fashion 004
Tarquinia, Tomb of the Jugglers, 520 BC.

“The New Power Dressing” coined by Prickett, “Breaks with conformity and “unisex” no longer means “mannish” but rather glamorously bisexual in a fin-de-siecle way.” I argue, cloth conveniently expresses a silent social message of  female individuality, culture and status.

Know first who you are, then deck yourself out accordingly. – Epictetus,Discourses, 3.1



Author: knitorious

Creating surface design on fabric through the use of mobile photography.

4 thoughts on “Encoding Modern Fashion”

  1. Kerry,
    Thanks for the compliment! I find it interesting how in the modern world we draw so much from our history.


  2. What fascinating insights. I could never have made these connections without your post but, you’re right, the connections are absolute there!


  3. Isn’t it amazing how the shoes in the photo look similar to the shoes depicted in the tomb painting? Perhaps the models are suppose to be expressionless so we, as viewers, look at the interesting aspects of the fashion and not their emotions??


  4. Interesting to say the least…but I do love those shoes in the last Charlotte Wales photo! Another question: why do you think those models nowadays look so full of chagrin????


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