February 9, 2010
library finds – 09-02-10
For Library Finds, I take a few books out of the library and share with you photo of a page or two or perhaps a random excerpt with brief comments of my own.
Today, two books based on museum exhibitions.
The House of Viktor & Rolf. I was curious about Viktor & Rolf, because I love their designs but I don’t know much about them. So I was excited to find this book, which is a thorough retrospective of the first ten years of their career.
The biggest treasure in this book is an interview with Viktor & Rolf and images of their early collections, student work and even (above) images of them in their tiny Paris studio apartment when they were just starting out.
Its an amazing story of manifesting ambition. Their 1996 collection, “Launch”, was an art gallery exhibition of their fashion dreams in miniature – a tiny photo shoot, a tiny showroom, a tiny runway, and even an empty, sealed perfume bottle. Over the course of their career, these things became real.
You can right-click any of these photos to see them a bit larger.
In the retrospective, they went back to the beginning in a way by meticulously building their most iconic looks on small hand-made dolls. V&R have so many fascinating ideas, executed marvelously. I love this collection “Russian Doll”, where Maggie Rizer is dressed in layer after layer of couture garments, one on top of the other.
“Blue Screen” is just brilliant – a collection of blue garments, during the runway they were simultaneously projected with moving images using the blue screen technique. You can see the video on Viktor&Rolf’s website.
A Family of Fashion: The Messel Dress Collection, 1865-2005. This is a remarkable collection of clothing from a family of women, especially a mother Maud Messel and daughter Anne Rosse, showing some of the most amazing artistry of London and Irish fashion from the 1890s to the 1960s. These were well off, cultured and chic women who were passionate about expressing themselves through dress and also preserving their clothing for posterity.
The family had a passion for fancy dress, especially in 18th century and traditional Chinese styles. Maud was an organizer of a needlework guild, and both she and her daughter Anne showed a remarkable amount of creativity in their dress. Maud was a lover of everything picturesque and was greatly influenced by the past in how she dressed.
Anne was a patron of notorious couturier Charles James before he relocated to America. Her collection of James dresses are avant-garde and yet like her mother, with a great appreciation for history. Anne was an exceptionally beautiful and poised woman throughout her life, with great confidence in how she dressed.
These are such fascinating books. There is something about investigating the dimension of time which deepens the perspective on fashion; current fashions and collections are much more interesting when you have a sense of all that came before.