This week’s metallic New York Times Magazine cover, and several of the images and illustrations within its pages, are inspiring me to commemorate some of the golden girls of design from an earlier age. Here’s the cover from May 16th.
Although this is clearly the ultimate contemporary American symbol, the waves in these stripes echo the striking beauty of the geometric Constructivist textiles designed in the 1920’s by Varvara Stepanova.
Fellow blogger Andrew Kuo’s stunning eye chart, open with worry, is reminding me of some of the illustrations from the Atelier Martine, Paul Poirot’s school for decorative arts which he established for young women in Paris, in 1911.
The colors and radiating lines in Andrew’s illustration are a little like these painted Art Deco flowers which were designed originally for embroidery in Paris, probably in the 1020’s, and the other paintings with their radiating lines and colors are from a workbook from Atelier Martine.
Take a look at these Bauhaus weavings. The carpet on the left is by Otti Berger from around 1929, and the wall hanging by Anni Albers is from 1926 or 1927.
These Russian Constructivist dresses show similar geometries to the weavings. The red dress was designed by Alexandra Exter in 1922 and the black one was designed by Luibov Popova.
Stacked lines and squares are key elements in this embroidery by Sophie Taeuber-Arp as well. She made this piece in 1928.
Sophie Taeuber-Arp and her friend Sonia Delaunay, both painters who’s work moved into the realm of textiles, formed a creative colony where artists could work together and share ideas. Imagine how glorious it would have been to work with them in their circle! Here are some of Sonia Delaunay’s graphic paintings for costumes and women’s fashions for the 1920’s and ’30’s.
While Tsilli was inspired by our present day economy, designing women from our past were responding to industrialization and the movements in art it inspired like Cubism. Here’s a beautiful and classic ensemble with subtle Cubist inspired detailing by Louiseboulanger from 1932. Each of these artists were formulating their own visions for a modern (or in Tsilli’s case, contemporary) world.
“Ok designer, it’s time for the show!”
“Ok, we’re ready to honor our sisters from the past.”
“Wow, interesting, Designer. Where did you get all these great photos to share with us?”
“I have a few terrific books on designers from the Industrial Age I’d highly recommend: “A Woman’s Touch: Women in Design from 1860 to the Present Day”, by Isabelle Anscombe (Viking), “A Fashion for Extravagance: Art Deco Fabrics and Fashions”, by Sara Bowman (Dutton), “Sonia Delaunay: Art into Fashion” with intro and forward by Elizabeth Morano/Diana Vreeland, (George Braziller) (This one was designed by my husband…), and “Cubism and Fashion”, The Metropolitan Museum of Art (Abrams). I got my info and pictures from these great books.”
“We like your interpretations though the first dress is a little more Cubist than Constructivist. We don’t feel it’s very wearable but we see where you’re coming from. The rest are a little wild too but could work in a contemporary setting. Good job, Designer. We’ll see you next week.”