Fashion and Surrealism
Metaphor and Metamorphosis Fashion and its instruments were at the heart of Surrealist metaphor, touching on the imagery of women and the correlation between the world of real objects and the life of objects in the mind.
Man Ray, Gift 1921
As the Surrealists would have it, beauty comes by chance because of the innately superior conditions of the subconscious to those that are controlled and regulated by reason.
Oscar Dominguez (French, born Spain 1906-1957) Electrosexual Sewing Machine 1934
Sewing machine is a surrogate for a woman.
Joseph Cornell (American, 1903-72)
Untitled, 1931 Reproduced under the rubric “the pulse of fashion” Cornell’s collage was the embodiment of women as garment and of the sewing machine as creative enterprise.
Addressing “the embodiment of woman as the garment and the sewing machine as creative enterprise”
The object provides an important harmony, suggesting that all things, even those achieved by chance or presented in new associations or radical dissociations could have meaning.
Max Ernst (1891-1976) Plates from Fiat Modes, Pereat ars (let there be fashion, down with art) 1919
Working in Cologne, in 1919 Ernst pronounced the dressmakers art to be the equal of, it not superior to the fine arts. Fiat Modes, adopts the mannequin figures of Chirico’s and transforms them into creations that are uniquely Ernst’s own.
Man Ray, Le Violon d’ingres, 1924. Man Ray’s vision of woman as musical instrument satirizes the cubist obsession with the guitar.
Dominique La Coustille Window Dress, 1985
Photographed next to a real window, this witty dress realizes the Surrealist metaphor. As a window conceals as well as reveals, so the garment conceals and reveals the body, affirming the visual congruity of the window and dress.
Bodies and Parts
Giorgio De Chirico. The disquieting Muses, 1917. The altered dress form is a metaphor combing mechanistic and personal elements to create a symbol of the human. Like a puppet, the mannequin clearly refers to the figure, and the assemblage of parts is a mechanical equivalent to anatomy.
Marisol (Venezuelan, born France) Body Coat (painted on a design by Jacques Kaplan) 1960. Audaciously feigning nudity through the coat, Marisol recapitulates the concept of Man Ray’s Coat Stand.
Salvador Dali. Night and Day Clothes of the Body, 1936. Dali’s ingenious antipodes of night and day, revelation and concealment, stiffness and softness, and light and dark give form to the concept of clothing as possessing its own life. The mystery that Dali offers is the essential paradox of clothing.
George Platt Lynes. Elizabeth Gibbons with Umbrella and Mask. 1940
The scrim like transparency of the garment, more cocoon than clothing, softens the figure to an elegant nudity while the mask and umbrella accompany such idealism with prurient mischief.
Rene Magritte. Homage to Mack Sennett. 1934. Magritte explores the intimate eroticism of clothing and the undeniable sense of the individual within the garment. Both the memory of the body and the anticipation of its presence obtain even as the clothing may hang in a wardrobe.
Elsa Schiaparelli – Shocking
Divided skirt patten 1931
Collaboration with Jean Cocteau
Butterfly dress collaboration with Man Ray
Man Ray collaboration