Hermann Finsterlin is not a well-known figure. As an architect, he achieved little in a time (early 20th century) when his utopic visions were not exactly to the taste of the bourgeois. Yet, his drawings of almost a century ago continue to inspire. They mesmerize by their playfulness (certainly not a coincidence that he was also a toymaker), their freedom and their wild expressionism which will be echoed in later comics more than “serious” architecture. This has little to do with fashion, you say? Not really. The amount of strange quasi-pastel colours from SS12 runways, the funny structures of Balenciaga shoes or a Marni coat could find their perfect environment in these crazy buildings. Of course we must imagine them built, which takes away much of the poetry of the drawings and might end up as a vision of Disneyland more than German expressionism… But wouldn’t the spiky end of a Mary Katrantzou marry the snail-like paths suggested by Finsterlin? Half fantasy landscapes, half dreamy architecture, the sketches could inspire jewelry as well as fashion – bizarre chromatic palettes and untypical shapes sound exactly like what the jewelry world needs.
With some imagination you can even read these drawings as architectural cakes, “Haute Pâtisserie Architecturale”, which would also explain the cake-decoration colours of, say, Balenciaga‘s coats. Silver icings in structural strips, artsy tart-jackets (notice the predominance of custard-yellow on Spring-Summer runways too). While the formal link between Finsterlin’s visions and Ghesquière’s shapes might not seem too obvious, it’s the freedom of experiencing with the medium that strikes in both cases.
Veil-hats, splattered colours, kitsch plastic skirts, shoes with wings… more utopic than wearable, really.
Back to Finsterlin and sugary colours: Marni‘s runway show has the same joy and childish wackiness of the buildings. Also, Castiglione’s could be the Casa Nova inhabitants, with their geometrical patterns and mellow expressionist hues. Finsterlin’s titles could very well label the outfits from the show: “Dawn”; “The Home of the clouds’ bird”; “The vegetarian stop of the seeker”, and so on.
Pedro Lourenço‘s designs fit with Finsterlin’s tubular shapes, bizarre superpositions and beautiful transparencies as well. Geometry is not only a boring school topic: it can produce, in both fashion and architecture, unbelievable structures, a bit more original than usual shoulders, jacket-shapes, and so on.
The scroll-shoulders mimic the protuberances of the architect’s anthropomorphic structures; the colours remind us of Finsterlin’s grey-green works, like the House on the See. Functioning like micro-architecture (speaking of, the shoulders are also very similar to Shigeru Ban’s cardboard houses), the coats, jackets and dresses bring fashion to a higher level; the show itself reads like a tale of urbanism. So what if the set… was not the usual boring runway (although with a gorgeous floorboard like Balenciaga‘s one cannot really complain) but instead a Casa Nova, so new that even after that many decades one can only dream of having as a fashion backdrop.
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