The Moment Is: Bodice-Ripping Baroque Bad Ass
This one’s been percolating for awhile, and even though it’s almost summer and soon to be ridiculously hot, now seems like the perfect time to discuss brocade frock coats, ruffled puffy shirts, et al. Karl Lagerfeld feels the same way. He just sent out a collection inspired by the opulence of Versailles at Versailles for Chanel’s 2013 Resort show. Everyone’s thinking dandy. Everyone’s feeling very Valmont. Let’s rip some bodices.
My love of the Baroque moment started with that Balmain suit in the middle, from Christophe Decarnin’s Fall 2010 collection. Actually, that isn’t entirely accurate. It started with Interview with the Vampire, one of my favorite childhood movies (that should tell you about what sort of child I was). In the film, Tom Cruise wears a divine midnight blue velvet jacket with a high collar and gilded embroidery. I’ve been obsessing about it since 1994. And that Balmain suit was a close approximation that actually made some sense for life post-early nineteenth century New Orleans vampirism.
The seventeenth and eighteenth century are nothing new in fashion. Dame Viv references it all the time (top right is her handiwork for Red Label, Fall 2012), but there seems to be a current in the atmosphere churning towards poetic decadence, something that eschews that classic, no-one-could-possibly-have-a-problem-with-this minimalism we’ve been force fed for a few seasons now. That Spring 2006 collection from Balenciaga (bottom right) is looking suddenly so right, ruffled jabot and all.
Let’s do this. Bring on the debauched grandeur of a Louis XIV or a Charles II. Let’s turn up the Purple Rain and study Justineand Fragonard. It’s romantic yes, but maybe just a touch evil. You know those dandies weren’t good boys. Just ask Lestat.
Chanel Resort 2013 (top left); Gucci Fall 2012 (bottom left); Balmain Fall 2010 (center); Vivienne Westwood Red Label Fall 2012 (top right); and Balenciaga Spring 2006 (bottom right).
Dangerous Liasons. I actually prefer Valmont because hello, Colin Firth and Fairuza Balk and Annette Benning together is awesome, but this one is considered the better of the two. And the costumes are worth it.
Interview with the Vampire. Not actually Baroque as it were. Watch it for the jacket.
Labyrinth. Not at all Baroque, but damn David Bowie’s suit in the ballroom scene is everything.
Amadeus. Brilliant and funny, Tom Hulce werks it in a powdered wig and at one point a unicorn head.
Jean-Honoré Fragonard. Famous for such discreetly erotic classics as “The Swing” and “The Stolen Kiss”.
Michaelangelo Merisi de Caravaggio. That “Bacchus” painting is always (always!) associated with the Rococo movement. It’s delicious and beautiful. Look at that succulent fruit.
Prince. Lover of all things purple and high collared, Prince rocks a jabot and leather jacket like no one else. Plus, nothing compliments a angsty frock coat like “When Doves Cry”.
Adam Ant. Of all the New Romantics, this dude embraced the pirate/dandy/rogue look wholeheartedly (with face paint too!). Winner of the prestigious Best Use of Jackets Since Napoleon Award.