The various mutations of the term grotesque

 

From the Italian term “grottesca”, which means cave fresco, definition and use of the term grotesque will mute through centuries. In 1532, it defines a “capricious ornaments”, and during the XVIe century it designates a caricatured or fantastic figure. Until those times, the expression is mainly used in the field of painting.

During the year 1636, in his book L’Illusion Comique, the French writer Corneille updates the signification of the word linking it to an idea of comical; “(…) causing laughing by its extravagance”. During the XVIIIe century, the Dictionary of French Academy defines it again under its pictorial aspect, explaining that a grotesque representation has one natural part and the other one chimerical.

The meaning continues to evolve through the decades and starts to figuratively nominate something or someone ridiculous, bizarre or extravagant. Nowadays, the dominant idea around grotesque is the one of extravagance; someone or something that lends to laugh by its incredible and eccentric characteristic, and also its bad taste.

There is embarrassment around the notion of grotesque facing the common desire to define it precisely without succeeding to do so.

It is by essence a hybrid word, its strength is to be constantly renewed, evolving and changing.

 

Hybridization disturbs, because it is creating something new, and very often changes and novelties are chocking.

 

Fashion, Collection, Fashion Show, Presentation

 

This is exactly what Hussein Chalayan did with the famous and so-called burqa collection. It’s a political statement about women’s rights and equality. Conceptually speaking, it is about breaking rules and conductively embracing cultural chaos, it that case we are talking about a very precise cultural background in some countries of the world.

 

 

We can put in comparison this statement about equality with the main characteristic of the carnival phenomenon. During this festivity everybody is put in the same level and everything is basically possible. Mikhaïl Bakhtine defines the term carnavalesque as a temporary inversion of hierarchies and values. He develops the idea of carnival as a strong expression of popular culture in its subversive dimension.

Here, Hussein Chalayan is unveiling the body of women to show orifices. He is revealing the social body, in which the natural should be eliminated, putting in evidence orifices, which are the opening self to the world, the connection between the internal and the external environment. The designer is hiding the face and showing the down part of the body; we recognize characteristics proper to the grotesque, the one of every possibility, inversions, and up side down.

Painting, Carnaval,

 

The grotesque is disturbing, because it’s cultivating contradictions and paradoxes.

 

In that sense it is able to break down the prejudiced and move walls of preconceived. It is interesting to have a different look on this collection considering this way of reaching a form a freedom of the body.

The Italian artist Francesco Albano also worked on the concept of grotesque with his sculpture of melting body. On this piece of work, the first thing we see is the orifice, our natural and animal part. We can interpret this shape as an animal in cage trying to escape, and as a metaphor of someone willing to break out from ones social body.

 

Art, Sculpture, Installation

 

This white and blank space made of neutrality reminds a dream, a fantasy in which everything is possible and where you can build your own world. A world that allows to invent a new reality made of paradoxes and hybridizations. A grotesque universe defined by Bakhtine as the unfinished metamorphose of death and birth, growth and becoming, always on the border between reality and imaginary.

Grotesque is forcing Art to integrate its own contradictions. It’s an anti-aesthetic.

Advertisements

American Vintage opens in Florence !

 

A new monobrand store of American Vintage is opening its doors in Florence very soon. And  it’s absolutely exciting for the city of Renaissance !

The occasion of this store opening is a good opportunity to go back to the roots of American Vintage and learn a bit more about the brand history…

Fashion, American Vintage, Advertising Campaign, Womenswear

American vintage is a label of ready to wear for both women and men that takes its origins in Marseille, south of France. It was created in 2005 by Michaël Azoulay. Born in 1978 in Marseille, he made a formation in electricity and air conditioning. He changed job repeatedly, and very soon he understood that his way was in fashion, and especially in the marketing and commercial sides of it.

He was very eager to create his own line and in September 2001 he launched Ana Paola, a line of ready to wear for women specialized in stitching. The label gets some success, but needs obviously to evolve.

After several travels, Azoulay decided to modernize the brand and change the name for American Vintage, officially in february 2005.

 

Two years after, in 2007, he commercialized the men‘s line of ready to wear.

 

Fashion, American Vintage

 

In an interview for fucking young, Michaël Azoulay explains : “We created a product that our customers can identify with. It speaks to them and brings out their unique personality. At American Vintage, clothing is not ostentatious and showy. Instead, it lets customers express their identity. The brand has brought a new concept to the market, with a unique approach and strong social values, which are expressed through the diversity of materials and colors.”

After 10 years, the brand widely expanded and is now well-recognize among the diversy world of fashion. The distribution in well developed in Europe, mainly in France. Yet it expands as well in countries like Israel, where there’re two monobrand stores, and also in Singapore or Hong Kong

“We become not a melting pot but a beautiful mosaic. Different people, different beliefs, different yearnings, different hopes, different dreams.”  Michaël Azoulay

 

It’s super exciting to have a American Vintage store in Florence and it’s going to be fantastic  to stroll there enjoying their wonderful chromatic scheme…

 

Short essay on the extraordinary Azzedine Alaïa

 

Azzedine Alaïa had a particular path full of wonderful meetings and particular experiences that gave him an extraordinary sensibility to the world. His story is full of persons and details that influenced him a lot. From his maternal grand parents, and Madame Pineau in Tunis, to the Comtesse de Blégiers and Madame Simone Zehrfuss in Paris who introduced him to the best artists of those times. Azzedine Alaïa gets in touch with a flow of different characters that affect his life and work forever.

After a few years in Paris, he built an incredible social network in which personalities and artists of all kinds meet and interfere.

Azzedine Alaïa is a singular art and life lover.

 

He has a great culture of literature and History of Arts, which he doesn’t like bringing to light with a respectable unpretentiousness. He owns amazing collections of books, haute couture garments and art pieces.

From the year 1987, he decides to go against the dictates of the regular fashion calendar. Anyway, his work is not about a collection or a season, neither about create a story, because according to him “everything is in the materials”. Azzedine Alaïa loves breaking the established codes, taking inspirations from every little thing that surrounds him or catches his attention and reflection.

His work is at the same time modern and timeless, personal and neutral, as if each garment he creates was a masterpiece.

 

He plays with time in a very original way, inventing new configurations. It’s about a long-term history on both intercultural and multidisciplinary sides.

Art, Creative director, fashion

Azzedine Alaïa is a “passeur”, according to the definition that gives Jerzy Kosinsky; somebody who creates bridges, who understands and explains how crossbreeding happen and identify its mechanism. Alaïa goes through every cultures, periods and genres, for him borders don’t exist and everything is about crossing and mixing.

He drew the most entire and complete vision, the most complex and global definition of the contemporary culture.