From my desk in the plane, on my way home from Asia this week. Signs that the Olympics have started in London, the Olympic circles of union, are everywhere. The five circles joined have made me think about this wonderful shape. Many do not know there is also a motto. Since the French Olympics of 1924 – Citius, Altius, Fortius – Faster, Higher, Stronger – has been the motto of the games.  Now it seems to me the way we travel today – faster, higher, stronger! There is also a symbolic unity in this important historical moment beyond the games.  Here, the Olympic colors out the window – blu for a unified Europe.

 

When it comes to circles of form and color, Sonia Delaunay joins eye and intellect. Her work is much more than shapes and colors. Her theories on how to create unity from separate shapes, and separate the single shape into multiples made all of her work and lifestyle in Paris seem as both many things and one thing simultaneously.

 While Delaunay is perhaps best known as an abstract painter, she did many things in her studio.  She was also  a designer of interiors, theatrical sets and costumes, cars and many other design projects including fashion. Her clothing and textile designs from the 1920’s through the 1940’s often included her favorite dots, seen here.

 

Here an early costume sketch by Bonnie Cashin for a dance troup reminiscent of the colors and circles of Delaunay. Known for starting the American ready to wear market, Cashin moved art into the market as a pioneer. Her ideas for “sports clothes” freed women’s movement, and bags for Coach opened the path for many of today’s designers.

She became a top model at 17 wearing the designs of  Mary Quant, and the two, designer and model became the icons of “swinging” 1960’s London.  Her name was Lesley, “as thin as a twiggy” and her 1998 autobiography, “Twiggy in Black and White” was a great success. This photo “shoot”  appears to be a spoof on the James Bond openings which started in 1962 with the release of the first Bond Movie, Dr. No.

Mary Quant became an icon of British fashion with her creation of the mini skirt and hot pants – her contribution to the mod fashion movement in 1960’s London.  She was compared at that time to Chanel and Dior for being one of the foundations of this revolution.  Here, two op fashion hats from her historic portfolio.

Circles in colors, size, position and movement can contribute to fool the eye and create illusions.  Seeing imaginary shapes different from the objective reality they have painted, attracts many artists to explore this idea including Marcel Duchamp, Salvador Dalì and especially Victor Vasarely.

Duchamp changed the art world in 1914 when he presented a wire bottle rack as a “ready made piece of art”  beginning the discussion on how to define art, beauty and fashion that Schiaparelli continues so playfully and elegantly with him later.

These glasses/sunglasses?  They are by Schiaparelli, the Queen of surrealist fashion.  Well known for the playfulness in her designs, these “sun” glasses are as equally strong as her trompe l’oeil and innovative prints.  Her eclecticism is not so surprising when you recall her deep commitment to enlarge the cultural definitions and relationship she saw between beauty, fashion and art.

Posted on: Sunday, July 29th, 2012

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