Bill and Ted, Ebenezer Scrooge (McDuck), and Eric Bana in that Rachel McAdams chick flick were all able to jump back through the portals of time. Now Stefano and Domenico, Oscar, Stella, and a Fendi “Baguette” full of designers are looking to days long, long gone and use fashion as a medium for time travel. As I flip through the stacks of September issues on my Swedish coffee table, I feel just like Owen Wilson in “Midnight in Paris.” However, instead of the Parisian Jazz Age, I am transported into Velasquez’s Las Meninas to observe the Infanta Margarita strut her stuff; since everyone is so short, I have a Karlie Kloss moment. Appliqued flowers bloom on silk tulle and lace ball gowns, precious stones like ornaments accentuate bodices, hairpieces gleam in the light like a Virgin’s halo. Though this may seem like a description of the Infanta’s head-to-toe look, in actuality, I am thinking about Dolce & Gabbana’s Fall/Winter RTW and alta moda collections. Fashion is art. Duh! Art is fashion. Molto duh! And fashion is having a rendezvous with the Baroque Era.
The nostalgia for things Baroque is the period of the Italian Reminiscence. (No, not the Italian Renaissance in case you think that was a typo. For the non-history buffs, the Renaissance precedes the Baroque.) And since this is fashion, the only things that should be enlightened are gold foil motifs on Marni shifts, opulent gems and studs embellished on a Marchesa clutch, perhaps a Chopard ring, and most of all, my nostalgia for Italy — for Rome. Oh FYI, I am a Pisces, and the Fall/Winter 2012-13 fashion trend is my “Cinema Paradiso.”
From my point of view, Baroque is tapestries and golden chords (a Jason Wu dress,) velvet the color of Communion wine (a Ralph Lauren Collection suit,) and i putti, the little cherubs that populate ecclesiastical works of art (Dolce & Gabbana earrings.) Epiphany! It is very possible that Pope Benedict XVI might be a private consultant – after all, the little devil wears Prada. These themes are also influencing the runways of Stella McCartney, Lanvin, even an Urban Outfitters look book, and they ignite in me a misty-eyed flashback — I am in Rome during my junior year of college staring in awe down the multi-colored and metallic corridors of the Vatican Museums. That is the true power of a Balmain sweater.
Perdonatemi, but allow me to sidetrack my thoughts on Baroque to reminisce a little on my time abroad in Rome. This period of time had been the seed that grew into a love affair with fashion. It was there that I was first introduced to L’Uomo Vogue, and I began to notice these uomini in their slim-fitted, dark-colored suits, with tan oxfords and blown-dry coiffe checking their reflections in tinted car windows or the side-view mirrors of their Vespas. I sat on the Spanish Steps with gelato (cioccomenta of course) in hand and thought why the Italians made the pilgrimage to Via Condotti instead of St. Peter’s. Was Adonis the real God? Could there be a Da Vinci Code symbology in fashion? LV, D&G, MIU MIU… I pondered. Thus, I instinctively adopted the ideology of “cleanliness is next to godliness” or rather, “perfect beauty is next to godliness.” Before I knew it I acquired the Roman tendencies towards fashion. I wore Benetton with Prada shoes and had hair like one of those Pasolini boys in the religious capital of the world getting closer to God. I knew that it was just a fantasy, but since fashion is fantasy, I still went on pretending. Amen.
Fast-forward to today. Although living in a Dolce & Gabbana Italian fantasy may seem quite nice, the reality of the Baroque trend is that it is quite decadent not only in design but in price tag. The trend is like a Counter-Reformation to the current economic state. Maybe fashion really is being commissioned by the papacy. Boh!? Did you really think a pair of Roger Vivier gilded boots would be under 1K dollars? Remember the idea is to go Baroque and not broke. Since we do not have the transports to go back in time a la Bill and Ted and bring back Baroque garb (it would be too costumey anyway,) we have to manage our non-fake designer brand pocketbooks. If you can shop on Moda Operandi, let the power of the gods be with you. But if you are a pilgrim of fashion and must rock the trend, check out the aforementioned Urban Outfitters, asos.com, or the past ADR line for H&M on eBay and give Tyra something to smize about. Just make sure you do NOT leave the house looking like Caravaggio’s muse.