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FASHION HISTORYhistory

The Uniqueness of Rome

11.11.2016 — by Victoria Ventonni

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After talking about Greek fashion (quite briefly, however), it would be chronologically right to write about Roman. One of the greatest Empires of the world, which heritage keeps affecting us till the very present day, it indeed has its roots in Greek culture, but it has its very own way of developing.

The Greek had an ideal to follow and to look up to, perfect development of athletic body and rhetorical, philosophical mind. Romans worshipped the human himself with all his strengths and weaknesses, which were seen as special and very individual qualities. From my perspective, this could be the main difference between these cultures, which distinguished their ideologies a lot. In each Roman house (which was wealthy and noble enough) was a kind of a shelf with portrait busts of ancestors in it. Roman were proud to be human in all the possible meanings of this word. They cherished each memory about their predecessors and the glorious history they were participating in. The more developed and wanted form of art between all the people were, indeed, portrait busts.

Of course, it is impossible to talk about clothes, when the main subject is the bust, but fashions in Greek and Roman times were very much alike. However, it would be hardly right to tell that addressing hairstyles. Roman people paid a great deal of attention to their hair, they took care of it, developed wigs and the hairdresser was one of the most prestigious professions that time.

We shall focus on one bust, which, in my opinion, is one of the most beautiful and breathtaking pieces of art in this world – bust of a Flavian Lady, now kept in Capitoline Museum. This is not a random choice, as it would provide us with a small talk about Flavian dynasty in Rome. This period is very small (between 69 AD and 96 AD) and consists of reigns of only three emperors (Vespasian (69–79), and his two sons Titus (79–81) and Domitian (81–96). However, during this time, many significant events took place: from eruption of Vesuvius and siege of Jerusalem to strengthening the borders with barbarians by expanding the fortifications along the Limes Germanicus. It is very hard to imagine modern Rome without Flavian Amphitheatre, better known as the Colosseum. This was a bright era, full of events, with the sunset of Roman Empire approaching, what made it even more interesting, and, in some cases, extravagant.

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The same could be told about Flavian hairstyles: interesting and, indeed, extravagant, probably, the most flamboyant in all Roman history. Braids and curls in all their kinds were extremely popular. In all time, women wanted to look younger than they are. In Flavian time, they wanted also to look taller: that is what the high arching crown (usually made using fillets of wool and toupees) on the front was for. It reminds me a bit of a combination of modern Babette and buns: as the hair was divided into two parts, first of them combed forwards and built with curls forming that crown and the second braided and coiled in bun.

This hairstyle was not only very extravagant, but also, I shall suppose, pensive and vulnerable, very feminine. The complicated web of braids and curls bewitched the eye of the onlooker, making him lost in the hair as much as in women’s soul. The front hair was headed upwards, to the sky and miracle worlds, full of magic and fairytales, forming a crown, what could be seen as reminder that every woman is a queen in her own way and should be treated so. And the very complex braided bun opened the neck, making woman elegant and vulnerable, forming the urge to protect her.

We are used to think about Roman people as an ideal, after which we shall strive. But let’s take a closer look. Roman were the ones who made gods more human-like and made ordinary human nearer to the gods. They were very aware of individuality of each person, transforming weaknesses into strengths, imperfections into something unique and therefor worth worshipping. Let’s look at the same bust sideways in order to prove that.musei-capitolini-dsc_3637-profile-view

Not having an ideal or a standard, accepting themselves the way they are, being sure they deserve everything they may want in this world – that is what made great not only Roman people, but also an Empire they made. I think, it may be good to learn from Roman to accept and to love yourself, just because you are so unique and special in your own way.

Eager to hear your questions and suggestions,

Victoria Ventonni

Historic of Art and Fashion

FASHION HISTORYhistory

Classic Era

29.10.2016 — by Victoria Ventonni

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World we are living in is constantly changing, rushing and swarming with revolutions of lifestyles and views or calming down, coming back to its routes, to classics. There are lots of examples of that in many fields which are connected with art, and fashion is no exception. Obviously, every time different interpretations of classic occur, involving the experience of styles and epochs, which used to be a revolution and are now seen as a legend.

The most original of them is Ancient Greece, where the term “classics” was first to be used. We are going to take a quick look on its fashion in order to understand what has left from it in the centuries, what makes a fashion trend “classical”. Are you interested?

We are to begin with a little debunking of the myths: antic sculpture was not white at all. More than that, it was brightly painted with contrasting colours. Unfortunately, all the pigments they used were organic as well as their foundation, which proceeded to the quick destruction. (It was possible to see antic sculpture in its original appearance at the exhibition «Gods In Colour: Painted Sculpture in Classical Antiquity» made in 2007 by American and German scientists).

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Cora from Acropolis: reconstruction and the original sculpture

Source: http://www.stiftung-archaeologie.de/reconstructionsen.html

When the “discovery” of the antiquity happened, it was already “clean” and since then became considered as “white”. Maybe, the long time of antiquity being thought to be white has resulted in black and white being classical colours nowadays.

Greeks loved bright fabric with various prints as well. However, in classical era, they particularly preferred monochrome ones: blue, red, violet, green, yellow, brown and white. The pattern turned into an ornament and moved to the border. Anyway, the main artistic element in the ancient Greek costume is not the colour but the drapery, which smoothly wrapped around the body, hiding its imperfections, highlighting the advantages and leaving the scope for imagination. For sure, fabrics must have been soft and thin. The elegant monochrome and perfectly chosen silhouette – forever classics, isn’t it?

Indeed, with the rush of time, the cuts have changed. This way, aksamija, which used to cover the body and end shortly before the knee, has transformed into mini-dresses. Chitones and peplosed, which used to cover the whole body and were belted in different ways, more often at the waist, are nowadays the long evening dresses.

Times are changing, the empires are rising and turning to dust, but something is always left. And usually this “something” is the style.

 

Eager to hear your questions and suggestions,

Victoria Ventonni

Historic of Art and Fashion

Variations of chitons

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Athena Melancholica, about 460ВС

Dressed in peplos

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FASHION HISTORY

Collars, XVII century and Spain

14.09.2016 — by VD

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Since the Early Renaissance Italy and Spain have been owning the place of the first fashion countries in the whole Europe. After the slow turn of Renaissance into Baroque we discovered the beauty of detailed and bright Spain – bloody red, deep gold, pure white and dark purple – all these colors were the definition of successful life and success. Queens and Kings were the true fashion icons and no one could repeat after them, but they could become little parodies of them. The best fabrics during that moment were in Italy and Spain, even if these countries did not have enough they had a good import and export with other countries, so they could get any fabrics they wanted. Spain was a rich country with powerful government. During that moment, when Baroque became a lifestyle – from fine art to Kings’ costumes – the special form of collars was born.
1428558087_22draft_lens9274471module92793301photo_1270333051marchus_gheeraerts-queen fc957530073088c3e83860eca765316aThere were different types of collars on that moment – wedding collars, breakfast collars, lunch, cocktail and theatre official collars. Women and men were obsessed with their pure white color and the form. Baroque was the era of grotesque, dark colors and huge contrasts – people used to make their silhouettes less realistic and they looked like really expensive dolls. Rich families started decorating their collars with pearls and diamonds – biggest and brightest collars showed the status of the owner.
1eecd1434b651f85d31b31c0ccf444d71470896904_2 150628114454Later, we went trough so many wars, fashion revolutions and life changing trends, but collars are still in fashion. They have changes – from a grotesque form to a minimalistic design. We can find all kinds of collars on Chanel, Tom Ford, Rodarte and other brands’ fashion shows. Collars in fashion became as important as eyebrows in 2016 – everyone looks after them and makes them more and more perfect each season.
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