The body and the woman between Venice and New York

From the figure of the woman who dominates the 59th Art Biennial entitled “The Milk of Dreams” to the excess of the celebrities who hosted the Met Gala in New York: a reflection between history, body, art and fashion, of yesterday and today

The body and the woman between Venice and New York
animated blake met gala getty images

There is a link between art and fashion which, in recent days, is fully expressed between Venice and New York. At Biennial female by Cecilia Alemani where, in addition to the opportunities won by many brands to participate by sponsoring or hosting anachronistic dinners, a cultured and refined storytelling appears around the body and the dress that represents it. A concept that brings fashion naturally into references to surrealism, Leonor Fini (including his clothes) a Leonora Carrington whose title of this edition The milk of dreamsfor Josephine Baker dressed in bananas, or in the hut dress of Simone Leighthe first African-American artist to also feature in the American pavilion, which won the Golden Lion.


At Met Gala the other version of the surreal connotes most of the clothing of the characters, guests of the most glamorous fundraising event of the year for the Metropolitan Museum of Art’s Costume Institute. Here everything is more explicit, less conceptual, photo-calls and red carpets are the background of the protagonists of a world where entertainment celebrates the theme of content: the theme of this year is the age of gold, an era now famous also thanks to the HBO series which recounts the American golden age from 1870 to the beginning of the 1900s. This is the content of the exhibition inaugurated on this occasion in America: A Fashion Anthology told through the vision of eight directors Janicza Bravo, Sofia Coppola, Julie Dash, Tom Ford, Regina King, Martin Scorsese, Autumn de Wilde and Chloé Zhao. Guided by the curatorial idea of ​​Andrew Bolton, Jessica Regan and Amelia Peck, they present cinematographic installations in as many rooms, with clothing made by American tailors in the historical period represented. A route that is completed with the other exhibition, also at the MET, previously inaugurated with historic ethnic pieces and by designers such as Ralph Lauren, Donna Karan and Calvin Klein entitled In America: a fashion lexicon.


Celebration of the splendor of a period of ostentation of wealth that unleashed the celebrities invited to a show where the grotesque still prevailed over the style, in total coherence with what was seen in the costumes of the aforementioned television series , perfect for recounting a time of bad taste. Although the invitation specified the indication of white tie in a form superior to black tie, except in certain cases like the elegant rigor of Tom Ford, the suggestion was not followed. Quotations to the pomp of the times produced successful interpretations of the theme like Blake Lively in Atelier Versace, Billie Eilish in Gucci, or of course Gucci with the irony of Alessandro Michele that always goes beyond, in the double image of a couple with Jared Letho. Lots of vintage, including a dramatic affair that marks a point of no return on which to rethink the value, not just symbolic, of an iconic dress: the Marilyn Monroe dress worn by Kim Kardashian. A case that has sparked outrage, fueled by images on social media that keep showing those who, despite having lost 7 kilos to be able to carry it, are trying hard to get inside. Images that document the “violence” of putting that dress on the wrong body in a video that would have been perfect for the Biennale: a performance reminiscent of the crystal slipper that doesn’t fit on the oversized foot of Cinderella’s stepsisters.

kim kardashian puts gala Photo John Shearer thanks Getty Images (1)
kim kardashian puts gala Photo John Shearer thanks Getty Images


Let’s not exaggerate in describing the anguish of this impalpable muslin who was born for a very specific purpose, certainly not that of transforming Kardashian into Marilyn. Finally covered with a white fur: a synthetic synthesis of this American carnival which cannot even protect its own history. The story of a suit that, like perhaps only Jakie Kennedy’s bloodstained suit after the Dallas bombing, represents the other side of the life of one of the world’s most important presidents. The Kardashian interviewee is right when she says that “there are many transparent dresses but this one is really naked“: Marilyn chose it on purpose when they invited her to sing “Happy Bday mr. President” at Madison Square Garden. It was May 19, 1962: three months before her death, she finds a way to make her relationship with President JFK obvious to the world, wearing a crystal-covered mermaid dress so tight it’s said was sewn to him by young Bob Mackie for Jean Louis. At the Ceremonial he had sent the image of another reassuring dress then, thanks to the fluffy white fur, he went on stage and discovered what was to become legendary, sold at auction for 1.26 million dollars in 1999, then bought back by Ripley’s Hollywood Boulevard Museum which still preserves it, but not quite as it should. Unfortunately, in one evening, he was denied a job of years, carried out by curators, archivists, museums, galleries, operations that painstakingly placed fashion in the right artistic position. A case that draws attention to the loss of culture, the superficiality disguised as levity or playfulness, the realization that since that golden age when wealthy American women watched Vogue to find out how Europeans dined and bought aristocratic jewelry imported from Tiffany. This new world has not yet understood the value of history.

– Clara Tosi Pamphili

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