14 September 2008

inspiration and influences: 18th century french costumes

what drives me? what keeps pushing me to make things? what keeps inspiring me? where do i draw my ideas and thoughts from? what am i attracted to? all these questions, i hope to answer (for myself, and my friends too when they ask, "what the heck are you doing cathy?") Plus, as i write it down, its more concrete and organized. It helps me think as well and sort out exactly what I'm doing. So the beginning of a new addition to this journal: my inspirations and influences.

inspiration and influences: 18th century french fashions

When I went to New York this year in March, I stumbled upon the Librairie de France, a charming French bookstore in Rockefeller center. Sadly, they are closing in November (after all, it's rockefeller center... and who is buying books, much less french books?). I wandered into the basement and stumbled upon gorgeous old fashion prints.

sample print

Similar to the one I bought, but not quite. Mine is from this same collection, but it is at home so i cannot take a photo of it now. But you get the idea - fragile pieces of paper with pale and delicate poofy dresses that are covered in embellishments! My creative mind starting ticking with ideas on how I could incorporate these designs into my work.

I also realized how much in common these fashion prints had with some cookies I had made earlier in december. See the evidence for yourself:

I realized, no wonder why my cookies look like that!
The french fashions only confirmed what I loved.

What, you may ask, exactly is a fashion plate? I was puzzled at first, but eventually figured it out. In the past, if you were not in the courts or living in the main city (say... Paris.) you had no idea what was in fashion and what you should be wearing to emulate those who knew. At first, there were fashion dolls, little dolls dressed in mini samples of the latest dresses and styles by dressmakers. Their small size made it easy for them to transport and show people visually what was in. Later, periodicals about fashion began to include these drawings to show people what was in, or going to be in. So anybody wealthy enough to subscribe to these magazines were able to see what to wear, regardless of where they were! (More info here, here, and here.)

Later, I went to another bookstore called Rizzoli, which is a haven for those into arts and design. And there I saw the biggie, the one I wanted:

BAM! A 200 dollar book of beauifullness! (It was also next to this book, but that is another story.) I paged throught it and fell more and more in love. It's full of costumes from around the world from all times, not just France. I didn't buy it (yet), but I did try to see if I could find it at the library. And the results puzzled me. Instead of 1 book like the one i saw, it was volume 1, volume 2, volume 3... why were they multiple volumes? and then i realized... this was originally a 6 volume set! The one I saw took out all the text and condensed it into just a big picture book.

But how lucky am I to go to a school that has the original set? I headed over to the Harry Ransom Center, where the books are kept, and selected a random volume to look at. I didn't have much time, but I was overjoyed to be touching something so old, so precious, and just so beautiful. Books in the 19th century have a very different feel - and to be able to touch and flip through something so nice, i'm very lucky! But it was even more beautiful than the updated version I flipped through at Rizzoli's. When I have time one day, I plan on going back and looking at them more in depth.

I did find another book at the library (which I could actually check out) and began to draw ideas from it:

Eighteenth Century Fashion Plates
edited by Stella Blum

This book is full of full color goodies! A nice range of various fashions of the 18th century shown publication Galerie des Modes from 1778-1787. Sixty-four of the best prints from a period of 10 years, it's a treasure considering the amount of things in this book that I pulled into my ceramics.
(and pricewise as well - much more affordable than the Racinet book.)

So! You've read it this far. What does it all mean for my work? It means BOOM, that's what! Because here is what happened to my ceramic work after I started seeing all these old fashions:

A remake of a prototype. But this gives you an idea of how I started.

this image leads to...

...this pot, hiding behind a cloak

with a giant bow in the back!

look at those flowers!

added some roses

and a top view

i like the ruffles

getting taller

top view of the tall one

some asymmetry, and stripes!

i'm also drawn to Fabergé eggs

top view of the Fabergé egg inspired one

i stole the colors from this one

let's get some movement in there

top view


ribbons, bows, layers, oh my!

top view

love her hat

a giant bow

purple and yellow, my 2nd favorite combo next to pink and yellow!

Making these pots confirmed one thing: i love embellishments, i love decoration, i love old things, i love beautiful desserts, and i love layers. and that it helps a lot to incorporate the things you enjoy into your work. it really does show when you truly enjoy something. one more: references! it's not possible for everything to come off the top of your head or your memory. so having something you can look at it makes a huge difference.


daniela de sarasqueta said...

wow!!!!!!!!!!!!!!your work whith food its amazing!!!!!!!!!very nice these serie its fantastaic!!!!

mintonia said...

Awesome work!!!