Wednesday, January 20, 2016

BEAUTY: Clothing--Antonio Marras

Antonio Marras is an interesting designer. His collections are always intriguing whether he is taking inspiration from his fabric-vendor-father's past archives (seen here), or from Marseille in the 1930s (seen here), or from Robert De Niro's character Travis Bickle from the film "Taxi Driver" (seen here); there is something about the mind of Marras that one cannot pass by. And believe me, I tried to pass by this collection. In general, I am not a fan of Western wear--for some aesthetic reasons, and for some personal reasons. But when I saw this Fall-Winter '16-'17 collection Marras showed at Milano Moda Uomo, I kept coming back to it, examining the layers under the outer veneer of "Western" and the layers under those layers. It's a dense, meaty collection with tangents and odd connections to throw it off kilter...nearly into the territory of the bizarre. Especially the soundtrack which consists of Johnny Cash and other singers covering Depeche Mode's "Personal Jesus" (stick around the for the line dancing at the end of the video below!).

We have the usual Western tropes: paisley neckerchiefs, denim, plaid, and khaki. Overalls are just a stone's throw from a work apron, the kind one would see on a blacksmith or the purveyor of the General Store. There are some "Western" suits sprinkled around, but they are either a little too minimalistic or covered in a florid "carpetbagger" pattern. Somehow we jump from there to a tartan that shows up on suits (one handsome dark plaid velvet number seems to come pre-spattered with mud) but also on kilts (with patches)! Is it the Scotch imigrant come to the American West? Must be. With nary a true Texas cowboy boot or a Stetson in sight, Marras instead gives us a kind of Tom Joad/"Grapes of Wrath" tone with Depression era fedoras and worn cardigans with floral appliqués. One of the more obscure motifs is the bandana worn on the lower half of the face of bandits who routinely robbed stage coaches, but here they are heavily adorned and bejeweled in a kind of bauble frenzy. Finally, a few Native American references, fur vests and random fur trim complete the frontier look. The whole thing is like the fever dream of a young Italian man who watched too many American Western films and fell into a fitful sleep: the films are once removed and heightened reality to begin with, so this wild, incredible mash-up must be twice or three times removed from the actual source material. The "Western" silhouette and essence are dizzyingly twisted, stretched, set back to front, and stirred together with some other time periods and cultures. And it is all the better for it!

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