Robe Study

"It has often been said that Classical drapery, besides performing such structural functions, also exists to reveal the body to advantage, emphasize its movements, and caress its contours."
-Seeing Through Clothes, Anne Hollander

This is a quote from the book I am currently reading for my thesis research. Only 20 pages in and I feel like I've learned as much as I do in some of my semester classes. The first 150 pages are about drapery in art history and how we depict the meaning from clothes based on the way figures were presented to us in art. For example in Greek sculpture they would change the proportions of the human body to better display the drapery's fluidity. In 2 out of 3 of my art history classes we are constantly referring back to the Greco-Roman art styles and how much they have influenced art, politics and society today. Naturally doing a photo series influenced by this type of style has been on my mind for awhile now.

I have had this robe since summer and have attempted many times to fully capture it's magnificent fluidity; I think this has been my best result yet. It took a lot of time and pulling out old dance moves but the only way to really be able to capture the essence of this robe is through that sort of dynamism. In black and white you can really focus on the shapes in the robe and the marble background immediately throw me back to this Greek inspiration. 
 Although I didn't fully dress myself in costume for a historically correct Greek statue as I said I was only using it as one of my references. Now looking at the results it blows my mind that the Greek's were able to perfectly capture all of the pulls and wrinkles of drapery in the wind in the form of rock without having photos to look at as a guide. 

"The fluttering dress of the Winged Victory has received consistent praise for its expression of movement, the sense of the flying figure just alighted; but its more essential appeal is simply the cloth..."

These photos were also inspired by my fascination with Solve Sundsbo's editorial, Invitation a la danse 
that I believe was inspired by Greek art as well based on these findings.

The Pleiades by Elihu Vedder

Solve Sundsbo was also the official photographer of the Alexander McQueen Savage Beauty exhibit where he clearly exhibited the same inspiration in these images of McQueen's Autumn/Winter 2009-2010 dress. 

"The hidden Archaic female body, on the other hand, a more static and simplified shape, was inseperable from its formal garments, somehow incapable of energy without the drapery." 

This is the most recent quote I pulled from Seeing Through Clothes. It is a very interesting way to look at the way clothing was depicted in figure art beginning during the Greco-Roman time. It makes me realize that the way that we see clothing, the meanings and things it represents to us has been conditioned through images and composition for centuries upon centuries. The reason that drapery dominated art history was because it showed that the artist could create a realistic form of the human anatomy and the illusion of fluidity also meaning a balance of body and soul. Throughout history after the fall of the Roman empire artists continued to depict figures in drapery similar to the Greek-Romans however as time wore on drapery became a symbol of holy-ness and one-ness with the world and self. That is why images of angels or God or holy figures are shown in robes. I am very excited to read more of this book and share the breaking down of images with you all, I think it is a great way to understand the origins of the symbols that clothing has to us that we may not even realize.