by Giulia Cassano
My starting point is a simple and plain dress which I found in the petticoats’ corner of a vintage shop. It dates back to the 1970s at the latest. It’s light and transparent and catches my eye due to the soft and pale colour of the fabric, at a glance a viscose chiffon fabric. It makes me think about my late childhood, maybe just the green years that separate childhood from early adolescence, when everything was supposed to be green: hair elastics, sneakers, t-shirts etc.
It stirs thoughts about the topic of vegetation and the supernatural in my mind: trees, magic, fairies, witches… Diana, the Roman goddess of the hunt, guardian of women and springs, queen of the woodland and wild animals, or her Greek equivalent Artemis, goddess of the wilderness, virginity and moon.
The dress reminds me of the water nymphs in the Pre-Raphaelite representations. For this reason I visualize the print on the front of the dress, which shall be something simple and a bit primitive in contrast to the fineness of the fabric. It must give a slightÂ sense of melancholy, like that of theÂ last summer days slipping away into autumn and the first leaves falling. I consider using a stag pattern, I know it’s quite common, but the horns perfectly fit with the simple shape of the bodice and the topics from which I want to take inspiration. The stag had a significant role in ancient mythology as it was worshipped as a god in prehistoric northern Europe and the oldest images can be seen in some prehistoric cave paintings in France that show the figure of a manÂ clothed in a stag’s skinÂ with antlers on his head, surrounded by animals. The god Pan is usually depicted with stag’s antlers, too. He is often mistakenly associated with the devil but he is actually the benevolent god of the wild, natural instincts, shepherds, flocks and mountain wilds, and this is the reason why he is worshipped by rural populations and often identified as a faun, the rustic forest god who’s the manifestation of forest and animal spirits. I am going to have this pattern printed: a man-stag surrounded by owls.
All right then, let’s start making the print: at the beginning I’m thinking about something professional but then I go for a stencil cut out from a cardboard. Afterwards I complete my design by using brushes, sponges and textile pigment inks. And then my final touch: I decorate it with glittering appliquÃ© and precious gemstones for fabric, a current trend useful to downplay the subject and to embellish the dress. Thinking of the ideal event for this dress, I’d like to imagine it on a girl running in the woods at twilight while her fluttering dress gets caught in the branches.
The dress is loose-fitting but I‘d like to turn it into a long, body-skimming one so I reduce its size and create a simple and perfect-fitting bodice. It is necked and with a childish style but balanced through its sheer fabric which results in a semi-transparentÂ and flimsy cloth. I am thinking of a particular style which calls to mind the cheongsam, the traditional ChineseÂ HYPERLINK “http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Dress” \o “Dress” dressÂ for women in various lengths and versions, worn by the main character in the initial episode directed by Wong Car Way which is part of the trilogy Eros: I take it as a reference and make the sleeves of my dress small and tight.
The dress is now finished, ready to run through the woods and get wet with dew.
Bibliography and references
– Dizionario mitologico, DivinitÃ principali della mitologia greco-romana e di altre mitologie (Dictionary of Mythology, Major deities of the Greek and Roman Mythology and other mythologies) written by Cinti and Decio, published by Sonzogno Editore, 1994, Milan.
– Dizionario mitologico (Mythology Dictionary) written by B. Colonna, published by Rusconi Editore, 2006.
– Eros directed in 2004 by Michelangelo Antonioni, Steven Soderbergh and Wong Car-way.
– Hylas and the Nymphs. Oil on canvas by John William Waterhouse, 1986, Manchester, City Art Galleries.
The cheongsam is the traditional Chines sheath dress. It is a body-hugging one-piece dress with a Korean Style stand-up collar. Its skirt can be very short or very long but with deep side slits. The most popular version is made of silk satin.