mercoledì 1 agosto 2012

Fashion Story : Blue

Hello !!
I came back from sweden! I barely had time to put down the bags that I must immediately get back to study for the new exams in September.
For this month I thought of a much greater presence on blogs.
Each day will present a fashion story on a topic by writing the story. Have fun!

Adapted from the French ‘bleu’, a term widely used in Italian until the Eighties. For  the Ancient Greeks and Romans blue was the color of the Barbarians’ eyes. The Maya population did not distinguish  bleu from green, and used a single word to define them: blue-green is the color of the center of the universe. In Ancient Egypt blue was opposed to red and was considered the color of introspection and of the infinite. In the Far East blue was considered a positive color protecting against bad luck; blue eyes besides were thought to have magical powers. The Bramins , at the top of the Indian caste system, wear blue: blue as thought, as the highest peak .

In 2000 Michel Pastoureau published the essay  “Blue. The History of a Colour” . The French historian had dated back to the year 1100 the turning point. The first sign  that something was changing was visible, in painting,  in the mantle of the Virgin Mary, once painted in brown , in violet or  white as a sign of mourning and affliction. Then,  all of a sudden it became blue, clear and bright, turning into a symbol of purity.

In panting blue is one of the most precious colors. Before the chemical synthesis of colors, in order to obtain the blue hue is was necessary to mix linen oil and lapis lazuli powder; such technique made blue the most expensive color in the range of oil colors  and was thus used very sparingly (unlike colors like brown that was obtained by simply mixing oil an soil). With the advent of Christianity blue became the color of the Virgin May, the symbol of serenity and an invitation to peacefulness, sublimated.

Yet no other book - writes Pastoureau- no art work or event influenced fashion more than Goethe’s novel “The Sorrows of Young Werther”, published in 1774. For at least 10 years the most coveted garment by young people all over Europe was precisely “the suit à la Werther” that is to say, the  blue tailcoats that the novel’s hero was wearing when he met Charlotte.

Goethe himself would often wear blue and in his Theories of Colors he defined the association of blue and yellow as  the ultimate chromatic harmony. But he was not the only one: like the great German writer , the whole romantic movement worshipped the color blue.

Created by the encounter of light and matter it reaches its peak in the 18th century when the invention of an artificial pigment – Prussian Blue – enriched the painters’ palette ad when the scientists, thanks to the discoveries of Newton on the solar spectrum, attributed to the color blue the status of primary color.

For the Romantics blue represented  poetry, the dream, melancholia, the thirsty longing for the absolute. Arthur Rimbaud, the “damned” poet who loved alchemic symbolism, associated the color blue to the letter O, a round figure, full and maternal. Vasilij Kandinsky and Franz Marc founded together in 1911 the artistic movement “Der Blaue Reiter” (the Blue Knight). Kandinsky wrote that blue implied depth and it was the color of spiritual figures. Nietzsche instead distinguished  between polytheist colors (yellow, red) and monotheist hues (blue and green). The blue swallows  (who crash to the ) of American playwright Tennessee Williams relive the old and widespread myth of the blue bird,  a fragment of the infinite.

A few oddities. Policemen and Carabinieri’s uniforms are blue  because the color  inspires peace and safety. The scientific demonstration  of such digression is that the human heart inside a blue room beats more slowly, for the same reason. The Blu-ray Disc format is called this way because Sony was not allowed to use the English word Blue.

"Blue" is also used to define blues, the musical genre. "Having the blues" is a melancholic state  that may be compared to the Portuguese saudade. And blues is the word that has characterized the status and culture of African-Americans.

Looking at the stats of the last 100 years, blue is the favorite color by over 50% of Europeans and is much used both in marketing and ad campaigns. Blue is everywhere and wherever it is, it conveys a precise message: on the UN and the EU flags the color indicates the desire for peace and brotherhood. An effective instrument to convey political and military concepts : on the American flag blue was associated to the idea of independence; on the French rosette, symbolizing the Storming of the Bastille occurred in July 1789, it represented the equality of the revolution.

On the world wide web logo , blue reminds us we live on the “blue planet" and that we are becoming an interconnected  community. The Telefono Azzurro, the blue telephone, in Italy  marks the wish to protect children in difficulty. The symbol of an ineffable, unworldly freedom (and sometimes of the soul of the deceased), blue is also the color of mythology, it is found in fairytales and it is the color of heroic princes. Pinocchio’s Blue Fairy had hair the color of the sky and of the spirit: clearly hinting at the initiation of the puppet, that dies to be reborn a child.
Bluebeard embodies its disquieting aspect and symbolizes well  the mysterious depth  that the soul has to know to achieve salvation. Intellectual, reassuring, luminous, intense, chic, proposed in various nuances, blue is the color of festive clothes. Although  blue jeans are synonymous with an informal and relaxed clothing style, in ink blue, sapphire, royal, cobalt, powder, metallic, it has quietly replaced black in the more elegant ensembles  so much that the petite robe by Coco Chanel, in today’s revisitation, betrays black for a deep blue. It was also  Picasso’s favorite color.

In today’s fashion, blue becomes the shade of the night, after ousting purple. It is Carla Bruni Sarkozy’s favorite shade but also Caroline of Monaco’s, in the cornflower blue hue that has defined the Eighties.
Glossy, electric, statement-making: for Yves Saint Laurent between the 70s and the 80s that exact shade of cornflower blue has been a classic hue as seen on blazers,  so we shall start from this. Ink blue makes a comeback in the 2000 thanks to Stefano Pilati, who revisits the classic sheath dress: obviously glossy , obviously topped off by gloves and feathers. With ample shoulders and puff sleeves, short and buttoned up like a little coat, is the blue of Krizia’s revival.
A softer and flimsier return, when cornflower blue flutters amid the flounces, and makes the austere walk at Calvin Klein flutter too, and tinges Versace’s sexiness with crossed necklines. Even Burberry, the specialist of British earthy tones, in 2010 makes the stage in blue. It is a long sequence of blue nuances that uplift today’s garments and revisit a certain cobalt blue, at the time glossy and flashy, in the decade of nightclubs and career women. More aggressive and almost space-age, by Thierry Mugler and Claude Montana. Deliberately childish by Miu Miu, featuring a conceptual undertone for Marni, timeless in the revisitation of Balenciaga’s classic staples.
Finally, the elaboration of tunics with large collars or on dresses with precious drapery, by Valentino. The latest haute couture runway show in Paris was a hymn to the mantle of the Virgin Mary. The ultimate blue? The caban or pea coat, the sailor’s double-breasted jacket, a classic staple of the French wardrobe, a must-have,  now more than ever, and not only for sophisticated Parisian ladies.

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