A Futurist Spring

Futurism is one of my favorite art/design movements. Founded in the early 20th century by Filippo Tommaso Marinetti, it was an all encompassing idea that embraced, no, adored technology and the new and regarded nature and the old with disdain. They were a little kooky (ok, and maybe even a little fascist), but their works are quite amazing, especially their work with typography. They published many manifestos, including one on women's fashion; which I found online. While reading, I kept thinking of all the current designers that embody Futurist aesthetics in their designs (some more than others) so of course, I am sharing these with you.

Here is the manifesto followed by spring 2009 looks that I think Marinetti would've appreciated.

Futurist Manifesto of Women's Fashion

Women's fashion has always been more or less Futurist. Fashion: the female equivalent of Futurism. Speed, novelty, courage of creation. Greenish yellow bile of professors against Futurism, old bags against style. For the moment, they can rejoice! Fashion is going through a period of stagnation and boredom. Mediocrity and wretchedness weave gray spider webs upon the colored flower beds of fashion and art.

Current styles (the blouse and chemise) try in vain to hide their basic poverty of conception under the false labels of distinction and sobriety. There is a complete lack of originality, a withering of fantasy. The imagination of the artist is relegated to details and nuances. The sickening litany of "saintly simplicity" "divine symmetry" and so-called good taste. Silly dreams of exhuming the past: "Let's revive the classics." Exhaustion, mollification, feeble-mindedness.

We Futurists intend to react against this state of things with extreme brutality. We don't need to start a revolution. It's enough to multiply a hundredfold the dynamic virtues of fashion, unleashing the bridles that hinder them from surging forth, leaping over the vertiginous jaws of the Absurd.


One must absolutely claim the dictatorship of artistic ingenuity in female fashion against the parliamentary meddling of foolhardy speculation and the routine. A great poet or painter must take over the directorship of all the great women's fashion houses. Fashion is an art, like architecture and music. A dress that is ingeniously conceived and carried well has the same value as a fresco by Michelangelo or a Titian Madonna.


The Futurist woman must have the same courage in donning the new styles of clothing as we did in declaiming our words-in-freedom against the asinine rebelliousness of Italian and foreign audiences. Women's fashion can never be extravagant enough. And here too we will begin by abolishing symmetry. We will fashion zigzag decolletes, sleeves that differ from one another, shoes of varying shapes, colors, and heights. We will create illusionistic, sarcastic, sonorous, loud, deadly, and explosive attire: gowns that trigger surprises and transformations, outfitted with springs, stingers, camera lenses, electric currents, reflectors, perfumed sprays, fireworks, chemical preparations, and thousands of gadgets fit to play the most wicked tricks and disconcerting pranks on maladroit suitors and sentimental fools. In woman we can idealize the most fascinating conquests of modern life. And so we will have the machine-gun woman, the thanks-de-Somme woman [sic], the radio-telegraph antenna woman, the airplane woman, the submarine woman, the motorboat woman. We will transform the elegant lady into a real, living three-dimensional complex. There is no need to fear that in so doing the female silhouette will loose its capricious and provocative grace. The new forms will not hide but accentuate, develop, and exaggerate the gulfs and promontories of the female peninsula. Art exaggeration. Upon the feminine profile we will graft the most aggressive lines and garish colors of our Futurist pictures. We will exalt the female flesh in a frenzy of spirals and triangles. We will succeed in sculpting the astral body of woman with the chisel of an exasperated geometry!


The new fashions will be affordable for all the beautiful women, who are legion in Italy. The relative cost of precious material makes a garb expensive, not the form or color, which we will offer, free, to all Italians. After three years of war and shortages of raw material, it is ridiculous to continue manufacturing leather shoes and silk gowns. The reign of silk in the history of female fashion must come to an end, just as the reign of marble is now finished in architectural constructions. One hundred new revolutionary materials riot in the piazza, demanding to be admitted into the making of womanly clothes. We fling open wide the doors of the fashion ateliers to paper, cardboard, glass, tinfoil, aluminum, ceramic, rubber, fish skin, burlap, oakum, hemp, gas, growing plants, and living animals.

Every woman will be a walking synthesis of the universe.

You have the high honor of being loved by us, sapper-soldiers at the avant-garde of an army of lightning.

Volt [Vincenzo Fani]
Roma Futurista, Rome, February 29, 1920.

I am certain if the futurists were around today, they would have a terribly passionate love affair with Hussein Chalayan. He's one of the only designers that have actually transformed "the elegant lady into a real, living three-dimensional complex". Although his spring collection featured very wearable pieces, there is no doubt that the Futurists would've swooned at his molded latex creations and that that feeling would've been enhanced by the car crash prints on the clothes.

Louise Goldin's complex knitted dresses seem to "succeed in sculpting the astral body of woman with the chisel of an exasperated geometry".

Christopher Kane's circle dress is also very much in the Futurist spirit, especially in gunmetal gray.

They would obviously be into Comme des Garcons, no doubt about it. They may have been turned off at the all black palette of the season, but I am sure that after seeing the complex silhouettes that Rei Kawakubo created, they would've let that tiny detail slide.

The bright colors and frantic shapes at Basso and Brooke are definitely Futurist material.

They would certainly be fans of Viktor & Rolf and would've fallen head over heels for the first look that went down their virtual runway for spring. In fact, they would've given the designers bonus points for staging a virtual runway.

The silhouette in this Sinha-Stanic dress is a little tame, but I think they would've enjoyed the cosmic disaster prints that they used throughout the collection.

Yeah, totally lovin' Maison Martin Margiela, no doubt about it.

They probably wouldn't be regular fans of Miu Miu, but I think they would've given props to Miuccia this season for her use of burlap and the graffiti detail (destroy the old and on with the new!).

100% Futurist shoes at Phillip Lim and John Galliano.

Manifesto taken from Futurist Fashion: Three Manifestoes by Emily Braun.


Arabelle said...

so i just discovered I'm a futurist. I just thought I was like... weird.

Yaayyy I fit in somewhere.

Lily said...

Awesome! Imagine if we were all living in a Fascist Futurist society and wearing clothes made of fish skin, ceramic and gas. I love the Futurists in spite of their extreme masculine bravado and casual chauvinism.("You have the high honor of being loved by us.")

sleepyhead said...

way to pull out the big guns on this post, damn girl.

ps, futurism is my favorite art movement as well. giacomo balla's work always takes my breath away. when i was studying in london last year, i would go to the tate modern and try to sketch the lines of movement he created.

so good.

laia. said...

arabelle: haha, awesome!

lily: at least the good thing is that the clothes would be free...

sleepyhead: i love his work too! i am insanely mesmerized by dynamism of a dog on a leash. god, if i could have that in my living room i wouldnt even need a tv i would just stare at it all the time.

jana said...

Wow -- that Margiela is really incredible. Anyways, I'm not sure if the futurists would have loevd that so much. It's all about speed and movement, anyways. I think that maybe this grotesquely huge and strangely re-contextualized diamond may have fit better with the surrealists. That is a bit of a stretch to say. It's actually a pretty post-modern concept, v. tongue in cheek, ironic. Ack, there are way too many isms in this sentence. Nice Post!

laia. said...

jana: the margiela was the one look that i wasnt sure about including. all youre saying is definitely valid, but in the end i included it not because of the meaning behind the design, but because aesthetically it seemed to go along their theory of wanting to transform the woman into something different. 3d details, tricking the eye and most of the stuff they describe in the "Daring" section of their manifesto.

susie_bubble said...

Submit this for JC Report goddamnit it....you deserve it!

Uvita V. de las Tinieblas said...

I always lurk in the shadows of your blog and seem to have the itch to comment on old entries very often.

This time...I've arrived on time, and instead of making silence:

This used to be my on desktop