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Friday, November 2 • 11:00am - 12:30pm
2.D. Surrealist Costume: Dissolving Borders

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PANEL. Surrealist Costume: Dissolving Borders

This panel highlights the various ways in which artists usually associated with Surrealism have employed costume, be it theatrical costume, fashion design, and/or fancy dress. At the same time, this panel also explores artists and designers who have followed the aims and ideals of Surrealism in the field of costume, but who may be set at a distance from Surrealism, either by the Surrealists themselves or by subsequent writings of the movement’s history. Our objective is to explore how these artists, both within and distanced from Surrealism, have used costume to dissolve or transgress borders, or deepen an already existing dialogue. From a methodological point of view, the papers engage with both Surrealist and non-Surrealist elements in their analysis. The ultimate aim is to explore the various opportunities provided by costume for a hypothetical re-writing of traditional categories and histories of Surrealism. This panel contains four individual papers exploring specific case-studies, followed by discussion.

"References and echoes of Surrealism in the fashion design of Jean-Paul Gaultier. From the costumes for Madonna's Blonde Ambition tour to the collection Les Surréalistes"
Teresa Lucia Cicciarella
Università della Tuscia 
This paper reflects on the way some forms and themes of Surrealism influenced the work of the fashion designer Jean-Paul Gaultier. In his work contrasting styles and visions are blended together, often with a fusion and overlapping of gendered identities and with a wide choice of unusual materials. The paper takes into account the work of Gaultier from the early Nineties –with the costumes for the Blonde Ambition tour (1990) of the iconic pop star Madonna that reveals the echo of some visions of particular Surrealist artists, filtered through the work of the Italian painter Fabrizio Clerici in 1940-1950 (as seen from Gaultier in the MoMA Collection)-, up to the haute couture collection named Les Surréalistes (2006), where forms and themes related to Surrealism find interesting peaks in the reinterpretation of the Skeleton Dress (1938) by Elsa Schiaparelli and Salvador Dalí, and in other clothes, hats and hairstyles that recall the imagerie of Schiaparelli, Dalí and Cocteau.

"The Grotesque and Surrealism in the Work of Fashion Designer Martin Margiela"
Francesca Granata

Parsons School for Design
This paper will explore the interconnection between contemporary experimental fashion, the grotesque canon and Surrealism, with a particular focus on the work of Belgian designer Martin Margiela. It will investigate Surreal traces in his clothing and accessories, fashion shows and exhibitions. Following in the steps of Schiaparelli, Martin Margiela’s work engaged with farcical discrepancies achieved through playing with a garment’s traditional function. One of Margiela’s best-known designs, the Tabi Shoes, emphasized a relatively hidden body part: the space between the big toe and adjacent one. It was often read as unsettling, comic and grotesque. Together with Tabi gloves (a hybrid between a mitten and a five finger glove) they point to different configurations of body anatomy by upsetting traditional relations of body and clothes. This comical incongruity can be observed throughout his work from the photo printing of different textiles onto cotton, thus creating a trompe-l'oeil effect, to the transformation of socks into gloves. The paper will discuss how Margiela’s work in its farcical incongruities and challenges to boundaries and reconfiguration of the body can be read in relation to the grotesque canon and Surrealism.

"Styling the Surreal Woman? Hat designs by Leonor Fini and Leonora Carrington"
Rachael Grew
Loughborough University
In 1952, Leonor Fini received a commission to design a series of fantastical hats, and she asked her friend and colleague Leonora Carrington to collaborate on them with her. Though the six resulting designs were never produced, they represent an interesting engagement with contemporary mainstream fashion, as well as exemplifying the ways in which Fini and Carrington sought to transgress the normative boundaries of femininity and the female body. This paper will explore how these designs embody the Surrealist rejection of the rational, individualistic self in favour of an irrational, multiple self; constantly in flux. Ultimately, it will argue that the designs collapse distinctions between human/animal, animate/inanimate, and even erase the physical borders of the body itself, to evoke a complex, multiple, and rebellious manifestation of the feminine.

"Leonor Fini and the costume. From the bal masqué to the theatrical costume design between surrealist recalls and its distances"
Valentina Vacca
Università della Tuscia 
Between the end of the Second World War and the Fifties, the Parisian bal masqué summoned numerous artists and designers who had been more or less linked to Surrealism. Between them, there was Leonor Fini who was always inclined to disguise and, on this occasion, delighted herself in making eccentric costumes which never failed to amaze Paris. Shortly afterwards, the artist turned her attention to the theatrical costume, an activity where she dedicated her attention until the early Seventies. However, there was a big conceptual difference between the costumes created for the Parisian dances and those designed for the numerous theatrical shows set in Rome and Paris from 1944 until 1972. The former, in fact, seems to respond more to a Surrealist line; the latter sometimes reflects her paintings in which she tried to break with Surrealism, sometimes aims to describe a specific historical time, so much that talking about a “philological reconstruction of the costume” would be possible. The paper therefore aims to make a comparison between these two different conceptions of costumes designed by Leonor Fini: the more Surrealist for the dances compared to the theatrical costumes in which she actually seems to have really found her way in breaking with Surrealism; more so than in her painting.

Speakers
avatar for Teresa Lucia Cicciarella

Teresa Lucia Cicciarella

Università degli Studi della Tuscia
I received my PhD in 2015 from Tuscia University with a thesis about the wallpaper as a medium of contemporary art, titled: “From background to foreground. Wallpaper as artwork from the Sixties to the present”.I specialized in Contemporary Art History and Criticism at the University... Read More →
avatar for Francesca Granata

Francesca Granata

Assistant Professor, School of Art and Design History and Theory, Parsons School for Design
Assistant Professor, School of Art and Design History and Theory
avatar for Rachael Grew

Rachael Grew

Lecturer in Art History and Visual Culture, Loughborough University
VV

Valentina Vacca

Università della Tuscia

Chairs
avatar for Rachael Grew

Rachael Grew

Lecturer in Art History and Visual Culture, Loughborough University


Friday November 2, 2018 11:00am - 12:30pm
Room D. Bertrand Library: Traditional Reading Room (second floor)