Undercover: A Twisted Fairytale

Bosch meets Black Swan in this balletic inspired coming of age fantasy

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I remember one design project in which we had to pick two seemingly disparate objects, ideas, concepts to be inspired by and cohesively and cleverly bring the two of them together to create a couture collection. I chose chemistry and fantasy (geek) and told the story of faeries emanating from chemical compounds, dragons, fabrics woven from the vapors of fuming beakers.... Another classmate chose to fuse together... pirates. And. Birthday cake.... I will never forget that concept because it is simply so utterly obscure a union, you thought her mad or genius. Pretty sure it was successful.  Confetti colored jackets and all that.

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Fast forward to all the elements Jun Takahashi expertly wove together to tell his dark coming of age fairytale, entitled "Pretty Hate Bird".  A far more complex union than NIN's adolescent angst filled Pretty Hate Machine album, and Angry Birds (although I wouldn't be surprised if Takahashi was listening to one and playing the other at any point during development.) Upon seeing the first girl in her debutant ball gown and wings, I thought we were watching the Swan Princess. But then there were tutus and floaty ballet inspired ensembles, like all the sheer skirts and knits... and I realized he was drawing from Black Swan. The hair and make up did resemble that of Natalie Portman's in the film.  But then there were  peasant girls/milkmaids (?) Reminiscent of Vermeer's painting of the subject, and a little of Drew Barrymore's Ever After Cinderella.  There was thought provoking art: surrealist prints featured trompe-l'œil skulls (not unlike the giant skull emerging from a cherry on the runway), and flowers with batwing shaped leaves....

Then, solid, candy colored coats descended the runway in simple silhouettes, featuring the ever present black swan motif in buttons, and... ornately framed screens playing cartoons?!?!?!? I assumed that they were clear pocket for a smartphone, and after scoping the designer's instagram, it turns out I was right! [embed]http://instagram.com/p/tcqSXySvbv/?modal=true[/embed]

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And then there was Bosch! The infamous "Garden of Earthly Delights" tryptic was printed all over a series of skirts, tops, dresses... THE SHOES!! And in what was one of the greatest displays of concept to creation: the pink formations in Bosch's piece were brought to life in the jewelry and other accessories. The girls were living art head to toe. Art depicting the journey the girls were taking. The leaving behind of innocence and succumbing to life's more carnal pleasures and the decadence around you. For a more in depth study of the painting, I implore you to revisit Rachel's beautiful post on the Bosch Dr. Martens.

Speaking of accessories, I'd be remiss not to mention the show's "it" bag. Cherry shaped minaudière suspended from brass knuckles. Give it!

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For the finale, there was a series of exquisite feathered looks, complete with over the top feathered masks. The leather jackets also a sign of rebellion. It was stunning and almost scary, and it paved the way for the final walk, when the girls returned to the runway clad entirely in beautiful black pieces with black wings outstretched behind them, conveying the end of their journey, and their complete transition into the dark side.

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Hey, if your descent into darkness guaranteed you a fantasy wardrobe by a mad genius, could you resist the temptation?

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(images via Style.com and Fashionizing.com (detail shots))

Art + Fashion: Dr. Martens X Hieronymus Bosch

Working for a company like Dr. Martens comes with some special perks: like getting my hands on exclusive, limited styles before anyone else. It's a blogger's dream. But when I found out my dear friend Rachel was not only coveting these particular boots herself, but was also an art history major (!!!), I knew she was the perfect person to pen this post.

---------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------- Heaven Above and Hell Below. Stomp the streets with alchemical allegories and unreal demons with Dr. Marten’s Bosch printed footwear and bags.

There’s pretty much no outfit that isn’t improved with the addition of a Dr. Marten. When the boot is sporting a bad ass painting - well it’s just that much better.

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Hieronymus Bosch’s Garden of Earthly Delights is one of the most recognizable works of Western art and I’m thrilled to see more and more pieces of art being incorporated into accessible Fashion. The Lolita fashion community has been subtly plastering paintings on dresses, tights, parasols etc for a while now and it’s great to see a trend I really admire go mainstream! (Want to know more about Lolita fashion? Check out this primer on art prints and Lolita from F Yeah Lolita).

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Bosch’s work is so recognizable and so often filled with wildly fantastic imagery that his work has captured the minds of historians since.. well pretty much forever. “When people see in a painting any monstrosities that go beyond the limits of nature,” wrote Felipe de Guevara, “they attribute them to Hieronymus Bosch and thus make him the inventor of monsters and chimeras.”1 Obviously we can’t credit Bosch for inventing such things but his work has a singular style that endures. In fact, Bosch’s style is so strange and there are so few records to teach us about his personal life that many historians struggle today to understand the symbols and allegories in his works.

 

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Take the Sensual Garden section of the triptych.  ["Heaven" $129.95]

 

I think the merging of iconic art and everyday fashion goes well with the alchemical themes of Bosch’s Earthly Delights. Throughout this garden are structures and objects that have direct parallels with a myriad of tools used by Alchemists. Alchemy as practiced in Bosch’s time has far more to do with medicine than it did with turning lead into gold - think of pharmacists. “The subject matter and organization of the Garden of Earthly Delights triptych is identical to the basic alchemical allegory which sees distillation as the cyclical creation, destruction, and rebirth of the world…”.2 Freely translated for my purposes I think that means Fashion will continually evolve, borrow, cast down and revive all kinds of trends. Nothing new is created without debt to what has come before. If you feel like giving a nod to the passionate experience of creation - choose a Dr. Martens piece with “Delights”.

 

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If, however, you are into the monstrous beauty of life then the Hell pieces are for you! [Hell $149.95]

Bosch’s hellscape draws you into a vision of horror. Filled to the brim with hundreds of demons and twisted monsters it is for this part of the triptych that Bosch has been canonized in the halls of history. Dominating the print is the infamous Treeman, “variously understood to be an egg, a goose’s carcass, the exoskeleton of an insect, a jug, a sodomite, a cosmic anus, the devil, a hellish tavern or brother, and hell itself. Built of disparities, this quintessential “Bosch” has sometimes been read as the artist’s portrait of himself.”3 It has also been described as a Ship of Fools (a ship for fools, a giant fool functioning as a ship and even a foolishly impractical ship). It is everything and nothing. A vision into a land filled with uncountable freaks and also an empty void, a screen onto which an artist has cast elaborate, fantastical lies. Bosch’s real innovation “...consists not in the creatures themselves but in the places where they appear. No longer at the margins of sacred or secular space or both, they occur on the central and centralizing medium [...] as the principal subject of autonomous works of art.”4

 

Dr. Martens pieces featuring the works of Hieronymus Bosch are absolutely wearable art objects that will armor you in creation, destruction, fantasy and nature. There’s no better way to accessorize!

 

- Rachel Parker

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The Heaven and Hell Bosch collection is available for a very limited time (complete with exclusive box) at a Dr. Martens store near you


1 Via Impossible Objects by Joseph Koerner in RES: Anthropology and Aesthetics, No. 46, Polemical Objects (Autumn, 2004), pp74. BIB ENTRY: DE Guevara, Comentarios de la Pintura, 1560-1563, ed. A. Ponz (Madrid, 1788); cited J.K. Steppe, “Jheronimus Bosch. Bijdragen bij gelegenheid van de herdenkingstentoonstelling te’s-Hertogenbosch,” in Jheronimus Bosch. Bijdragen bij gelegenheid van de herdenkingstentoonstelling te ‘s-Hertogenbosch 1967 (‘s-Hertongenbosch, 1967), p. 21.
2 Via Bosch's Garden of Delights Triptych: Remnants of a "Fossil" Science by Laurinda S. The Art Bulletin, Vol. 63, No. 1 (Mar., 1981), p. 99.
3 Via Impossible Objects by Joseph Koerner in RES: Anthropology and Aesthetics, No. 46, Polemical Objects (Atumn, 2004), p.79
4 Ibid. p.77