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Article

(b Paris, Jan 14, 1904; d La Clarté, Brittany, Aug 27, 1967).

French sculptor, printmaker and tapestry designer. His father was a jeweller, and after his return from World War I in 1918 Adam worked in his studio and learnt how to engrave. At the same time he studied drawing at the Ecole Germain-Pilon and read Charles Baudelaire’s Les Fleurs du mal, which was to have a great influence on him. In 1925 he attended evening classes at a school of drawing in Montparnasse. From 1928 to 1934 he started to produce prints and became associated with André Breton, Louis Aragon and Paul Eluard, although he was never greatly influenced by them. His early prints, reminiscent of the work of George Grosz, were mostly designed as social satire, mocking the myths surrounding patriotism, the family and religion, as in When Papa is Patriotic (1935). In 1933 he designed the costumes and scenery for Hans Schlumberg’s Miracle à Verdun performed at the Théâtre des Bouffes du Nord in Paris. His first exhibition of prints was held in ...

Article

Adrian  

Ann Poulson

(Gilbert) [Greenburg, Adrian Adolph]

(b Naugatuck, CT, March 3, 1903; d Los Angeles, CA, Sept 13, 1959).

American costume and fashion designer. Adrian is best known for his costume designs for Hollywood films and his signature women’s suits (see fig.). Adrian was educated at the School for Fine and Applied Arts (now Parsons School of Design) in New York and Paris. He began his career in New York by designing costumes for Irving Berlin’s Music Box Revue of 1921. It was through his work on Broadway that he met the costume designer Natacha Rambova, wife of the screen idol Rudolph Valentino, and began designing costumes for films. He arrived in Los Angeles in 1924 and by 1926 was working for the director Cecil B. DeMille, who brought him to Metro Goldwyn Mayer (MGM) in 1928. When his contract with DeMille ended, Adrian signed with MGM, where he would remain as head costume designer until 1942. At MGM, Adrian dressed stars such as Greta Garbo, Joan Crawford, Jean Harlow, Norma Shearer and Jeanette McDonald. Although it was his designs for Garbo, in which he was careful not to distract from her natural beauty, that first brought him fame, it was his creations for Joan Crawford that made him a household name....

Article

John Hovell

(b Wairoa, Hawke’s Bay, NZ, Aug 27, 1939).

Maori painter, carver, weaver, costume and stage designer. His involvement with art began at Te Aute Maori Boys’ College (1954–7), Hawke’s Bay, Waipawa County, and continued with formal art training at Ardmore Teachers’ College (1958–9) and at Dunedin Teachers’ College (1960), where he trained as an art specialist. He subsequently worked for the Department of Education as an arts and crafts adviser and served on committees for national art education policies, the Historic Places Trust (with particular reference to Maori sites), art museums and tribal committees (dealing with traditional and customary art forms and architecture). He helped to promote contemporary developments in Maori arts for community buildings, meeting houses, churches and public sites, serving on private and governmental commissions. In his own work he maintains a balance between the conservation of older traditional materials and forms of Maori arts and the experimental use of new materials, such as composite chipboard, synthetic dyes, plastic-coated basketry fibres and composite, laminated board. His painted and woven-fibre works are notable for their rich but subtle colours and controlled sense of line. They vary in size from complex architectural installations or stage designs for the Royal New Zealand Ballet to designs for postage stamps. At Te Huki Meeting House (...

Article

Pamela Elizabeth Grimaud

(b Tunis, Feb 2, 1935).

French fashion designer, of Tunisian birth. Alaïa is renowned for his ‘second skin’ fashions and masterful cutting techniques (see fig.). Christened the ‘King of Cling’ by fashion journalists, Alaïa rose to prominence in the 1980s following years of realizing commissions for a loyal and select clientele. His designs are modern, overtly feminine in their celebration of the female form and, in Alaïa’s own words: ‘not sexy, voluptuous’. Alaïa’s sculpted fashions have been known to render other designers’ fashions unwearable—they simply feel too large in comparison.

Born in southern Tunisia, Alaïa was raised by his maternal grandparents and at the age of 15 undertook the study of sculpture. Realizing soon after that sculpture was not his calling, and serendipitously passing a dressmaker’s window on his way to classes, he saw a sign for an assistant. He was hired for the task of finishing hems at five francs apiece. Alaïa rose quickly to become a favourite of Tunisian high society, copying for the local clientele the work of the great ...

Article

A. N. Lavrentiev

(Platonovich)

(b Serpukhov, Moscow district, Oct 1, 1882; d Serpukhov, April 29, 1947).

Russian photographer. He was the son of a hairdresser. In 1901 Andreyev studied painting and, at the same time, ‘art’ photography. In his later works he successfully combined the qualities of easel painting and photography, and he experimented widely with printing techniques involving oil pigment, bromoil and gum arabic. He was a master of delicate, lyrical landscapes, striving for the broadest tonal generalization of forms in his depictions of the countryside of middle Russia. Among his most famous landscape photographs are the coarse-grained Crimean Landscape (1929; see Morozov, no. 140) and Into the Blizzard (1930; see Morozov, no. 141). The same rich tonality and picturesque quality are also present in his genre photographs. From 1906 he successfully exhibited at national and international photographic exhibitions, where he was awarded many diplomas and gold medals.

S. Morozov: Tvorcheskaya fotografiya [Creative photography] (Moscow, 1986) L. Ukhtomskaya and A. Fomin: Antologia soveskoy fotografii, 1917–70...

Article

Diane Maglio

(b Piacenza, July 11, 1934).

Italian fashion designer. Armani was dubbed the ‘Sexy Tailor’ by the American fashion press for sartorial innovations he introduced in menswear. He brought sensual drape to traditional suit coats by eliminating rigid interlinings that had shaped and restricted men’s clothing in the 1970s. To complement his new softly-tailored coats, he created short, supple, collared shirts and textural, patterned ties. Armani’s impact on menswear went beyond unstructured sewing techniques to include a serene colour palette inspired by the Italian artist Giorgio Morandi. The neutral earth tones included an inventive grey–beige (‘greige’), moss, mushroom and smoky grey–blue, tones not seen before in menswear. Armani claimed to be ‘the stylist without colour’. Armani also brought a feminine touch to menswear and eventually expanded his design aesthetic to women’s clothing, bringing a powerful look to women’s fashion. His minimal modernism in cut and fit, while retaining maximum impact in silhouette and colour, stimulated the fashion imagination of Hollywood, retailers, journalists and customers of both sexes....

Article

Suzanne Tise

Descriptive term applied to a style of decorative arts that was widely disseminated in Europe and the USA during the 1920s and 1930s. Derived from the style made popular by the Exposition Internationale des Arts Décoratifs et Industriels Modernes held in Paris in 1925, the term has been used only since the late 1960s, when there was a revival of interest in the decorative arts of the early 20th century. Since then the term ‘Art Deco’ has been applied to a wide variety of works produced during the inter-war years, and even to those of the German Bauhaus. But Art Deco was essentially of French origin, and the term should, therefore, be applied only to French works and those from countries directly influenced by France.

The development of the Art Deco style, or the Style moderne as it was called at the time, closely paralleled the initiation of the 1925...

Article

Michèle Lavallée

[Fr.: ‘new art’]

Decorative style of the late 19th century and the early 20th that flourished principally in Europe and the USA. Although it influenced painting and sculpture, its chief manifestations were in architecture and the decorative and graphic arts, the aspects on which this survey concentrates. It is characterized by sinuous, asymmetrical lines based on organic forms; in a broader sense it encompasses the geometrical and more abstract patterns and rhythms that were evolved as part of the general reaction to 19th-century historicism. There are wide variations in the style according to where it appeared and the materials that were employed.

Art Nouveau has been held to have had its beginnings in 1894 or 1895. A more appropriate date would be 1884, the year the progressive group Les XX was founded in Belgium, and the term was used in the periodical that supported it, Art Moderne: ‘we are believers in Art Nouveau’. The origin of the name is usually attributed to ...

Article

Alan Crawford

Informal movement in architecture and the decorative arts that championed the unity of the arts, the experience of the individual craftsman, and the qualities of materials and construction in the work itself.

The Arts and Crafts Movement developed in the second half of the 19th century and lasted well into the 20th, drawing its support from progressive artists, architects and designers, philanthropists, amateurs, and middle-class women seeking work in the home. They set up small workshops apart from the world of industry, revived old techniques, and revered the humble household objects of pre-industrial times. The movement was strongest in the industrializing countries of northern Europe and in the USA, and it can best be understood as an unfocused reaction against industrialization. Although quixotic in its anti-industrialism, it was not unique; indeed it was only one among several late 19th-century reform movements, such as the Garden City movement, vegetarianism, and folksong revivals, that set the Romantic values of nature and folk culture against the artificiality of modern life....

Article

Alan Crawford

(b Isleworth, Middx, May 17, 1863; d Godden Green, Kent, May 23, 1942).

English designer, writer, architect and social reformer . He was educated at King’s College, Cambridge. As a young man he was deeply influenced by the teachings of John Ruskin and William Morris, and particularly by their vision of creative workmanship in the Middle Ages; such a vision made work in modern times seem like mechanical drudgery. Ashbee played many parts and might be thought a dilettante; but his purpose was always to give a practical expression to what he had learnt from Ruskin and Morris. An intense and rather isolated figure, he found security in a life dedicated to making the world a better place.

In 1888, while he was training to be an architect in the office of G. F. Bodley and Thomas Garner (1839–1906), Ashbee set up the Guild and School of Handicraft in the East End of London. The School lasted only until 1895, but the Guild, a craft workshop that combined the ideals of the Arts and Crafts Movement with a romantic, apolitical socialism, was to be the focus of Ashbee’s work for the next 20 years. There were five guildsmen at first, making furniture and base metalwork. In ...

Article

Frederick N. Bohrer

Style of the second half of the 19th century and the early 20th, inspired by Assyrian artefacts of the 9th to 7th centuries bc. These were first brought to public attention through the excavations by Paul-Emile Botta (1802–70) at Khorsabad and Austen Henry Layard at Nimrud in the 1840s. By 1847 both the Louvre in Paris and the British Museum in London had begun to display these objects, the size and popularity of which were such that the Louvre created a separate Musée des Antiquités Orientales, while the British Museum opened its separate Nineveh Gallery in 1853. The same popularity, fuelled by Layard’s best-selling Nineveh and its Remains (London, 1849) and Botta’s elaborate Monument de Ninive (Paris, 1849–50), led to further explorations elsewhere in Mesopotamia.

Assyrian revivalism first appeared in England rather than France, which was then in political turmoil. The earliest forms of emulation can be found in the decorative arts, such as the ‘Assyrian style’ jewellery that was produced in England from as early as ...

Article

Pamela Elizabeth Grimaud

[Bernard, Augusta]

(b 1886; d 1946).

French fashion designer. Augustabernard is known for her understated, elegant garments, whose subtlety belies a mastery of technique. Hailed as a ‘sculptor of cloth’ and a ‘classic modern’, Augustabernard was considered among the most innovative and skilled couturières of her generation.

Augustabernard was born in Provence in the south of France and began her fashion career by creating reproductions of designs by the leading couturiers of the day. In 1919 she opened her Paris salon in the Rue de Rivoli. At that time there were two competing houses using the name Bernard, and it is likely that because of this Augustabernard joined her first name and surname together, creating a griffe or signature label synonymous with exclusivity. In 1928 she moved to 3, Rue du Faubourg Saint-Honoré, bringing with her a selective and devoted clientele. By the early 1930s Augustabernard was receiving coverage in the French and international fashion press, achieving success with her simple, yet innovative designs....

Article

Molly Sorkin

(b Getaria, Jan 21, 1895; d Valencia, March 24, 1972).

Spanish fashion designer, active in Paris. Based in Paris from 1937 to 1968, Balenciaga was a modernist couturier whose designs ranged from the austere to the romantic. His uncompromising vision was defined by his quest for perfection in cut, proportion and construction. Influenced in part by the historical art and culture of his native Spain, Balenciaga’s style was often ahead of its time even as it slowly evolved over more than 40 years. Balenciaga dressed an élite group of women who understood and appreciated how his designs took shape on the body (see fig.). He used minimal understructure, instead relying on the fabric, manipulating it into streamlined suits or voluminous evening dresses. Even the most abstract silhouettes retained a soft quality that was flattering to many figures. Like his friends and fellow couturiers Madeleine Vionnet and Coco Chanel, his work has had a profound influence on 20th and 21st century fashion....

Article

Lourdes Font

(Alexandre)

(b Saint–Jean-de-Maurienne, May 18, 1914; d Paris, June 29, 1982).

French fashion designer (see fig.). Balmain was born in the Savoie region of France to a family engaged in various branches of the fashion industry. His father, who died when he was seven, was a wholesale textile merchant and his mother and aunts kept a fashion boutique. Although he was always drawn to a career in fashion, his mother hoped that he would enter another field, and allowed him to study architecture at the Ecole des Beaux Arts in Paris in 1932.

In Paris, Balmain sketched original fashion designs and offered them for sale to couture houses, hoping to be hired. In 1934 he was hired by Edward Molyneux, the couturier he most admired. Balmain claimed that from Molyneux he learned to strip designs down to their essentials. However, he was not given much opportunity to contribute to the house’s collections. The talented but inexperienced Balmain was in need of training, but Molyneux, who already had John Cavanagh and Mitzah Bricard as assistant designers, did not have much need for him. Late in ...

Article

Dennis Raverty

(b Charlotte, NC, Sept 2, 1911 or 1912; d New York City, Mar 12, 1988).

African American painter, collagist, and author. Bearden is best known for his collages, which often addressed urban themes (e.g. The Dove). He was a founding member of Spiral, a group of African American artists who started meeting at his downtown New York studio in 1963. He also published essays and cartoons, designed book jackets, magazine and album covers, and is widely regarded as the first African American artist to successfully enter the mainstream of the contemporary art world. The posthumously published book he co-authored with Harry Henderson, A History of African-American Artists: From 1792 to the Present (1993), in a very short time became an almost canonical text in the field.

Bearden’s family moved permanently to Harlem, a predominately black neighborhood of New York City, in 1920. His mother, Bessye Bearden, was the New York correspondent for the Chicago Defender, an African American newspaper, and through her Bearden was introduced to many of the artists, writers, and intellectuals associated with the ...

Article

Melissa Marra

(b Haynesville, LA, Aug 30, 1927; d New York, Sept 28, 2004).

American fashion designer. A modernist, Beene’s inventive geometric cuts and in-depth understanding of the human body made him one of the most innovative designers of the 20th century.

In deference to a family tradition, Beene enrolled as a pre-med student at Tulane University in 1943, despite his childhood penchant for fashion. While at Tulane, Beene was notoriously caught sketching the gowns designed by Hollywood costumer Adrian in his anatomy book. Three years later, he withdrew from Tulane University and moved to Los Angeles, where he became employed in the display department of the store I. Magnin. In 1947, he moved to New York to study at the Traphagen School of Fashion, but having concluded that the focus of postwar fashion had shifted to France, Beene transferred to Paris’s Ecole de la Chambre Syndicale de la Haute Couture Parisienne the following year. During his two years at that institution, he also studied life drawing at Académie Julian, and in the evenings was apprenticed to a master tailor for the ...

Article

Martha Schwendener

[Ben Youseph Nathan, Esther Zeghdda]

(b London, Nov 21, 1869; d Brooklyn, NY, Nov 27, 1933).

American photographer. Born Esther Zeghdda Ben Youseph Nathan to a German mother and an Algerian father, she immigrated to the United States in 1895. She worked as a milliner in New York before opening a photographic portrait studio in 1897. Her ‘gallery of illustrious Americans’ featured actresses, politicians, and fashionable socialites, including President Theodore Roosevelt, author Edith Wharton, artist William Merritt Chase, and actress Julia Marlowe. Ben-Yusuf also created Pictorialist-inspired artwork like The Odor of Pomegranates (1899; see fig.), an allegory informed by the myth of Persephone and the idea of the pomegranate as a tantalizing but odourless fruit. Ben-Yusuf was included in an exhibition organized by the Linked Ring, Brotherhood of the in London in 1896 and continued to exhibit in the group’s annual exhibitions until 1902. Her photographs were exhibited at the National Academy of Design in 1898 and at the Camera Club of New York in ...

Article

Biba  

M. B. Whitaker

British fashion boutique. Established in 1963 by fashion illustrator Barbara Hulanicki (b 1936) as a mail-order catalogue, Biba swiftly evolved into a popular London boutique, and finally, from 1973 to 1975, a short-lived department store. Biba offered eclectic and affordable clothing, accessories, cosmetics and other products to students and teenagers, consequently becoming a fundamental driving force behind street fashion during the 1960s and 1970s (see fig.).

Barbara Hulanicki, born in Warsaw, worked as a fashion illustrator in London for a variety of magazines in the late 1950s and early 1960s. This introduced her to the privileged and dictatorial world of haute couture, which turned her away from high fashion. With the encouragement of her husband, Steven Fitz-Simon, she began designing and started the Biba Postal Boutique in 1963. This mail-order catalogue, named after her sister, was a quick success. Her most popular design for the catalogue was a gingham frock and kerchief that later became a staple of the Biba shop (...

Article

Gordon Campbell

Type of lace made since the 17th century at Binche, near Brussels and Valenciennes, both of whose laces it resembles. It is a heavy lace with decorative grounds, and was used for bedspreads and as a costume trimming. The name has since become the generic term for the type of lace once made at Binche....

Article

Kristen Shirts

(Ralph) [William]

(b Fort Wayne, IN, June 22, 1922; d New York, June 12, 2002,.

American fashion designer. Blass is known for his ready-to-wear apparel and sportswear. He cultivated a high-society personal image to complement his upper-class clientele and is often credited with promoting a distinctly American look that incorporated simplicity, practicality and casual luxury. He is also known for his shrewd business practices, including product licensing and making personal appearances at ‘trunk shows’ across the country.

Blass was the only son of a hardware salesman and a dressmaker. The modesty of his life in the Midwest during the Depression, particularly after his father’s suicide when Blass was five, made him determined to get away from small-town America. As a child, he sketched Manhattan society women in penthouse apartments and, before he entered high school, he began selling sketches of evening dresses to New York clothing manufacturer Kalmour. After high school, he moved to New York and took a job as a sketch artist at David Crystal, a sportswear firm, while attending fashion design classes. He soon enlisted in the US Army and spent the years from ...