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Coco Chanel

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CURRENT READING: THE LANGUAGE OF FASHION: ROLAND BARTHES

Chanel, it is said, keeps fashion on the edge of barbarism all the more to overwhelm it with all the values of the classical.Chanel, it is said, keeps fashion on the edge of barbarism all the more to overwhelm it with all the values of the classical.

If today you open a history of our literature, you should find there the name of a new classical author: Coco

Lorenzo Petrantoni 's Baroque Encrustation

Petrantoni smashes visual codes from  late 19th century newspapers channeling the architectural mores of the Baroque.Petrantoni smashes visual codes from late 19th century newspapers channeling the architectural mores of the Baroque.

Adolf Loos' opinion that ornamentation was a crime gets quite the explication in the work of Lorenzo Petrantoni whose exuberant style gleefully commits every conceivable visual crime in defiance of the laws of Classic Modernism. Which is why I've become a groupie.

TI IS MAD FOR: 1970's ISSUES OF ARCHITECTURAL DIGEST

Ashes to ashes. Sepia on sepia.Ashes to ashes. Sepia on sepia.

They are glimpses of a world that was on the brink of dissipating.

TI IS MAD FOR: CRITERION'S " Last Year At Marienbad" Packaging

I'll say it again. This film is THE apothesis of intellectual French glamourI'll say it again. This film is THE apothesis of intellectual French glamour

I have a bad reputation for playing this movie each and every time I have guests over.

MODERNISM'S OTHER MOTHER: EUGENIA ERRAZURIZ

Portrait of Senora Eugenia Huici de Errazuriz by Jacques Emile Blanche 1890Portrait of Senora Eugenia Huici de Errazuriz by Jacques Emile Blanche 1890

In the history of taste and style, where does one era end and another begin? Can you find a sharp dividing line, as sharp as a crease on a map? In tracing the fascinating shift in taste from the fin de siecle Belle Epoque of the late nineteenth /very early 20th century to the stripped down modernism that is still today's rule of thumb, a very interesting woman keeps coming up. No, not Coco Chanel though her role as one of the mothers of modernism is quite clear. The woman in question is a certain Eugenia Errazuriz, a Chilean heiress whose father made a serious fortune in silver mining. There is an amazing chapter on her in art critic John Richardson's "Sacred Monsters, Sacred Masters (which I read like the bible nearly every night). He describes Errazuriz as "a girl of considerable beauty, Eugenia was brought up in the archaic conventions of Spanish colonialism" .

Eugenia was painted by John Singer Sargent as well as Boldini, Helleu and Orpen. As a kind of patron of the avant-garde, she became one of Picasso's greatest collectors. Her interests though also included the newer strains in literature (Cocteau), music (Stravinsky) and ballet (Diaghlev).

CURRENT VIEWING: LAST YEAR AT MARIENBAD

Last Year At Marienbad: DIR: Alain Resnais: Fox LorberLast Year At Marienbad: DIR: Alain Resnais: Fox Lorber

I has been having this dialogue with a friend of mine, the mastermind of frillr.com about the strange lure of boredom. Or to be precise the perverse act of watching beautiful people on screen being very bored. We went through a crash course of 70's Warhol Movies (Trash , Bad, Women In Revolt) and have now moved onto the very austure Alain Renais stuff. The big must-watch? The legendary 1961 film “Last Year At Marienbad ” starring Giorgio Albertazzi as an impeccably dressed stranger trying to convince an even more impeccable Delphine Seyrig that they were past lovers. The beautiful thing about the film (apart from the absolute boredom of the beautiful cast) is the obsessive geometric arrangements the director constructs from framing to mise en scene to lighting to tracking shots. Very French in that Cartesian way. The tension and the control of the visual design of this film says a lot about the formal conventions, ritual conversations, and lifeless parlor games of fashionable society. And if Delphine looks particulary “coutured-out”, maybe it’s because all the costumes were designed by Chanel. Coco Chanel that is. I'm not sure what's happening with the rights to this film but I dream that Criterion has it high on the list for a digital remastering.

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