Tuesday, May 12, 2009

Mariano Fortuny.

[Still got nothin'. Continuing the 'great fashion designers in history' topic.]

Mariano Fortuny came along a generation or so after Worth, and by then the concept of a fashion designer as a Brand Name was established. So his rise to fame and fortune is a bit more mundane, but ah, the genius. The genius is there.

Fortuny was born in Spain, into a family of artists. Mostly painters. After his father died, Fortuny's family moved to Paris, and then Venice. In both places he studied art of all kinds, architecture, and engineering. He's kind of the Renaissance Man of fashion history, in the sense that he knew a little bit about everything.

In Venice, in 1906, Fortuny opened his business; it went beyond fashion and supplied fabric for home decoration (which was also a new concept of the day).




When he wasn't designing revolutionary women's clothing, known as some of the first flattering AND comfortable fashion of the day, he tinkered. He overhauled fabric printing methods, looms, and in particular was known for stenciling velvet with metallic inks in ways no one else could recreate (and no one else has, to this day). They're still using his manufacturing methods, to this day. In fact, his fashion house still uses the original equipment to produce decorating fabrics.

In his spare time, he fooled around with modernizing stage lighting for theaters, and invented the world's first dimmer switch.

But what he's really known for, most famously, is the Delphos Gown:




As you see, they were made of pleated silk. I think some of the photos show the glass beads along the seams and at the hems, which weighted the fabric and made the dresses drape beautifully. If ever I were to aspire to a great piece of fashion history, this is what I'd likely buy. But my pockets aren't deep enough. That aqua one there at the bottom? It's on sale right now at Vintage Textile for fifteen grand.

Almost a century later, and people are still shelling out fifteen grand for one of his dresses. Now THAT, ladies and gentlemen, is STYLE.

Oh, and no one's ever figured out how he did those pleats in the gowns, either.

7 comments:

Amy Lane said...

Wow-- I like the guy already!

Louiz said...

Love the red drapey shirt thing (I'm sooo good with names). I heard that (should you have a pleated dress of his) you need to return it to them to get it pleated again. And wow.

kitmf said...

Now those tops I would wear. The lovely pleated dresses are awesome, but I fear they require the wearer to not be short.

Roxie said...

If I recall correctly, Fortuny was just pre-brassiere era. So those gorgeous, clingy, drapey gowns needed a firm young woman to show to their best advantage. And I bet they just kicked butt!!

walterknitty said...

Lovely dresses. Fashion designers are still making dresses like that today. I dont know if you watched the Oscars last year but there were women wearing dresses very similar. If I close my eyes I can almost feel the silk against my skin. Any woman who was lucky enough to wear one of those dresses must have felt amazingly beautiful.

walterknitty said...

Lovely dresses. Fashion designers are still making dresses like that today. I dont know if you watched the Oscars last year but there were women wearing dresses very similar. If I close my eyes I can almost feel the silk against my skin. Any woman who was lucky enough to wear one of those dresses must have felt amazingly beautiful.

Emily said...

Oooo, I could never wear one of those gorgeous pleated silk thingies...my body has lumps in unfashionable places (even when I was young I was lumpy) and that fabric would outline them in horrifying relief. Alas. The stuff is so gorgeous.

Your keep-the-afflicted-part-busy approach to your problem has me thinking. I've developed thinned rotator cuff tendons, for which there is no solution, & my job (playing violin) aggravates them. They get inflamed & swell up, etc. Hmmm.