Author: Allanna LESKENLI
Each period is remarkable for its own standards of beauty, its own perception of what is fashionable. The exhibition Modernism and Fashion, which is running at the Heydar Aliyev Center until April 2018, reflects a variety of ideas (aesthetic, economic, political) and the fashion trends of the 1960s.
The exhibits are part of the collection of the famous Russian art historian, fashion historian, theater artist, and writer Alexander Vasilyev. The models of women's clothing from Nina Ricci, Pierre Cardin, Coco Chanel, Givenchy, Yves Saint Laurent, Oleg Cassini and many others are on exhibit. The owner of the collection visited many cities of the world, but arrived in Baku for the first time. The cultural action, which has an enlightening character, became possible thanks to the support of the Heydar Aliyev Foundation and the direct participation of the country's vice-president Mehriban Aliyeva.
Fashion as a form of art
Coats, suits, dresses from the recent past of Hollywood and European movie stars are complemented with accessories in the form of costume jewelery, headdresses and exquisite handbags. The exhibition is undoubtedly of interest not only for specialists in fashion design, cinema, theater, but also for the city's population. The title of the exhibition, Modernism and Fashion, accurately determines the goals and objectives of organizers. Firstly, because it is not only a reflection of time, but also a source of information about the life of society in the 60s. So what is modernism in the fashion of the 60's?
The origins of the word stem from Italian modernismo meaning the modern current, recent. This trend in the art of the late 19-20th century is characterized by a break with previous historical experience of artistic creativity, desire to establish new, unconventional principles in art, the continuous renewal of artistic forms, as well as the convention of style.
If we consider fashion as part of a larger global art reflecting the course of historical events in time, then we will understand that the 60's gave the world a lot of interesting, bright, charismatic personalities in different types of art, events and phenomena. For example, the movement of hippies, the emergence of neo-realism, rock band Led Zeppelin, folk-rock band The Beatles, the flight of Yuri Gagarin, the cosmic style of Paco Rabana, the development of technology and the appearance of new types of fabric such as nylon, dederon, lycra, polyester and artificial leather, fabrics - with abstract drawings of bright "psychedelic" colors, a popular geometric print among fashion designers. The world, enjoying a period of calm after World War II, tried to turn life into pleasure. There was an era of synthetics and everything artificial. Apparently, young and daring people were in the foreground of these events. Boys and girls who now have to build a new world. And, of course, there is a fashion for education! It is necessary to learn fashionably, prestigiously. They learn, invent a new style of communication. Aas a form for self-expression - the desire to have an attractive and original appearance. The old fashion with its academic attitudes no longer suited the young. Academism went into the background, giving way to new trends dictated by the desires and aspirations of the youth. Paris was too conservative, continuing to offer the world "sophisticated femininity." The world did not want wait and moved to… London! It was there that the most scandalous clothes of the 60's appeared – mini-skirts! A new style, called the London style, quickly conquered the whole world. However, most ladies dressed in couture were women of "elegant" age. An aesthetic compromise was required. And fashion designers found it. The ladies were offered a "refined" version of the youth fashion: skirts to the knees, suits with bright colors, shoes on small hairpins.
Collection: time, history, life
Alexander Vasilyev’s collection includes clothes from haute couture, and unknown European and American designers such as Chanel, Cristian Dior, Pierre Balmain, Yves Saint Laurent, Nina Ricci, Jean Lanvin, Pierre Cardin, Fndre Courreges, Guy Laroche, Oleg Cassini, etc. Many of the dresses in their time belonged to Mary Pickford, Gloria Svenson, Leslie Claron, Lauren Bacall, ballerina Maya Plisetskaya and others.
What's so special about it? They look as normal things... A little old, a bit dated... They seem to be from another world! But... Do not rush! Move slowly, look, and do not glance over the surface of the tissue. See and you will see that in fact you see the time with aesthetic and moral laws, with desire for beauty as perfection, beauty as a salvation. Looking back from the perspective of the people of the 21st century, we can ironically smile saying Come on! Is it true? Is that it? True! Go and see for yourself. And take a closer look: is not there something similar in your mother's wardrobe? After all, today the style of the 60's is in demand more than ever! And on the streets of our city, we see the eclecticism of the fashion of the 60's: miniskirts, dresses and sarafans of a direct type or A-shaped silhouette, shirts, narrow trousers, low-heeled shoes, short fashionable hairstyles in Sassoon style, girls dressed in Twiggy or Lolita style, youth dressed in Teddy style, geometric silhouettes, bohemian chic, elements of ethnic costume, unisex, diffuse (mixture of different styles). Today's fashion and style of prêt-à-porter is an eclectic of the fashionable trends of the late 60's.
About the Collector
Alexander Vasilyev is a well-known and popular personality. He is the author of 27 books on the history of fashion and interior history. He grew up in a theatrical family of an actress and an artist. He was married to a Frenchwoman. Traveling around the world, he gives lectures on the history of world fashion, holds exhibitions of his collections, collaborates with theaters, creating theater costumes. In a word, he leads a life full of meaning and deed. Life, the meaning of which is to give and return forgotten beauty to people. A few hours before the official opening of the exhibition, Alexander Vasilyev met with representatives of Azerbaijani media, who spoke about the project Modernism and Fashion and shared his impressions of Azerbaijan. Vasilyev first visited Baku in the 60's together with his father, who was friendly with the famous Azerbaijani artist Tahir Salahov. He still recalls the dacha of Tahir Salahov. "I like everything in Baku!" he invariably repeats.
Vasilyev said that the exhibition presented in Baku is unique. It was created specially and exclusively for the Heydar Aliyev Center, and many of the exhibits from his collection, in which more than 65 thousand pieces of clothing, are presented here for the first time. He added that every exhibit of the collection is especially dear to him, and he cannot distinguish a certain thing - all of them are important for him and the main ones.
The fashion historian said that the cooperation with the Heydar Aliyev Center will be continued, but did not disclose the details of the forthcoming project.
"I would really like, and I dream that Mehriban Aliyeva's dress and her shoes decorate my collection of clothes. Mehriban Aliyeva is a style icon. She is an outstanding woman by her external data," said Vasilyev.
By the way, First Vice President of Azerbaijan Mehriban Aliyeva took part in the opening ceremony of the exhibition. It is possible that Vasilyev could tell Mehriban-khanim about his dream personally.
Vasilyev was last seen in Baku in February 2017, when he held a master class for 23 students of his outreach school. During the week, while classes were going on, he and his students made excursions to Icheri Shahar, visited the National Museum of Arts, the Heydar Aliyev Center, Primorsky Boulevard, Gobustan, the houses of Landau and Vitaly Wolf. Before visiting Baku and enjoying its beauty, he dreamed of seeing his fashion collection in Baku, so beloved by him. And the dream came true! "In this fifth visit to Baku, I did not have a minute of free time, as I was busy opening my exhibition. It is very important for me that everything is organized at a high level. I am grateful to the Heydar Aliyev Foundation for everything," said Vasilyev.
I believe the residents of Baku feel the same gratitude for the opportunity to see the collection of the maestro. It is necessary to encounter the beauty that lives in time. Perhaps, she really has been empowered to serve for preserving humanity in our souls...