‘Utopian Clothing: the Futurist and Constructivist Proposals in the Early 1920s’

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Abstract

Can fashion start from zero?’ is a question that, as observed by theorists, histori- ans and curators, ultimately haunts those radical sartorial projects embodying a ‘new’ vision of the world. In the experimental overalls designed at the beginning of the twentieth century by Thayaht in Italy and Stepanova, Rodchenko and Popova in Russia, it is possible to follow and progressively unfold the aspiration to a total renovation and reorganization of life. The differences between the artistic contexts to which these artists belong – Italian Futurism and Russian Constructivism – have often induced critics to discuss their sartorial proposals separately, overlooking their points of convergence. Within this article, the overalls by Thayaht and the Russian Constructivists are instead analysed in relation to each other, as agents of change, or rather as instances of a ‘utilitarian outrage’. In examining their biographies, the article questions the newness of these creations, the rhetoric of the ‘new’ that accom- panied them and their status as ‘anti-fashion’ projects. Combining material culture with cultural history, it argues that their iconoclasm and utopian potential resides precisely in their proposing a rationalization of clothing, and in ‘questioning the very fashion project itself’, in both its symbolic and tangible presence. Finally, on the basis of archival research and interviews conducted at the Thayaht-RAM Archive, Florence, the characterization of Thayaht’s tuta as a Futurist creation, which has often been taken for granted, is reconsidered and problematized further.
Original languageEnglish
Article numbervol.1, issue 3
Pages (from-to)225-244
Number of pages20
JournalClothing Cultures
Volume1
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - 2014

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