Monday, September 13, 2010

Photo by Monasuevintage

This exquisite silk dress by Scaasi, boasts a three-tired ruffled peplum, shoulder pads and all-round 80's goodness. I love the irregularity of the polka dots, their organic shape and three dimensional illusion. These dots have a trompe l'oeil effect of depth and shine. And I adore the abundance of flounces. Polka dots always resist propriety with their abundance.

This dress is quite spendy, alas, though it would probably fit me. But perhaps you are feeling flush. And perhaps you are going to Seville and intend to wear it with matching polka-dotted heels and white flowers in your hair, so trot on over to Mona Sue Vintage. ¡Olé!

Dots were never my thing, I always opted for stripes. A whiff of the prison colony about a stripe, no doubt about it. Whereas the polka dot was reserved for the court jester. Or so I thought. But over the past year, polka-dots have won me over. Flamenco is definitely to blame. My style is usually influenced by whatever dance form I'm compulsively chasing. (When I was doing Bharata Natyam and Odissi, I seemed to find many occasions to wear salwar kameez or saris and accumulated some very beautiful shawls and bangles. The sarongs and Hawaiian prints come from the Hula and Tahitian dance obsessions, etc. ) Now I'm all about the flower in the hair, the full skirt, and polka dots (lunares). One of my current style icons is the great Lola Flores.

Here is an impressionist offering by Joaquin Sorolla, a detail from the painting El Baile (1914-15). This image was found at Mi Espacio Flamenco which has lots of beautiful paintings of flamencos, gitanos, dance and vistas of Spain. The site has audio as well,and I hope to spend more time there soon.

I couldn't resist this one either, also from Mi Espacio Flamenco:

This painting, Pastora Imperio (1922) is by Julio Romero de Torres. Here polka dots meet a patterned shawl. I love her severe glance and the arm band. If I could substitute a ukulele for that guitar, I could do this one.

For more flamenco inspiration, you can see some great images from old vinyl flamenco records sleeves here at Flamenco y Copla en Discos de Vinilo.

Some other lovely vintage flamenco images can be seen here at Dos Lunares, which promotes Roma and flamenco music and cultural events in Los Angeles.

Lunares literally means little moons, and the same word is used for beauty mark. Apparently, gypsies are known as the people of the moon, though how polka-dots became associated with dancing, especially Sevillanas, I don't know. Perhaps you do? Clearly there is some mysticism involved.

And finally, for your polka-dotting joy, here is a slide show on the history of polka dot fabric from a Northern-European and US perspective. In Medieval Europe, evidently, spots were originally associated with disease, and outcasts of all sorts. And this slide show notes that it was impossible to make fabric with a consistently spotted pattern until machine printing. Thankfully it concludes with the polka dot's greatest proponent, artist Yayoi Kusama.

Ms. Kusama, for whom the polka dot is a graphic representation of the vastness of the cosmos and the disintegration the artist feels (among other things) is truly the High Priestess of the Polka Dot. She's been covering every known surface with them since the mid-60s.

I became a big fan of Ms. Kusama a few years ago. Her total commitment to the dot as a portal of mystical or perhaps schizophrenic experiences. Ms. Kusama, who has had experiences of going into trances from an early age, currently lives in a mental hospital in Tokyo, but is still able to create her amazing works of art. I would also like to check out her novels.

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Blogger arnique said...

Blade Runner was awesome! I also really loved the 40s in the future outfits, not quite steampunk. I haven't heard of or seen Liquid Sky, so now I'm going to look it up. :)

A from A + B in the Sea

4:38 PM  
Blogger samsara said...

Hellos Ms. Arnique!

Thanks for stopping by.

Liquid Sky is the apex of early 80s New Wave Anti-Fashion, but it is a deeply disturbing movie about addicts and aliens filmed mostly at the club Danceteria. Anne Carlisle plays the roles of both Margaret and Jimmy with true early 80s androgyny. You can watch some clips on youtube. I'll post some of them.

The costumes are terrific.

8:33 PM  

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