FASHION

UNDERCOVER AUTUMN/WINTER 2019 SHOW REVIEW

Undercover, Autumn/Winter Ready To Wear, 2019

Undercover, Autumn/Winter Ready To Wear, 2019

Undercover is a high-end streetwear brand, founded by Japanese fashion designer Jun Takahashi in 1993. Although the term “high-end streetwear brand” may seem like an oxymoron, more and more brands fall under this category nowadays. Other examples include Vetements, Kith and most famously Off White. 

At the start of the year, during the Fall Menswear fashion week, the brand displayed its collection to viewers in Paris. Despite my personal reservations and opinions on brands that fall under the same category as Undercover, this collection was poignant and left a great impression on me. In my opinion, the whole idea behind high-end streetwear is not only stupid but extortionate, as designers put high fashion prices on clothing that lack creative depth. 

 The Undercover Fall show was based on Stanley Kubrick’s adaptation of Anthony Burgess’ novel A Clockwork Orange. 

Undercover, Autumn/Winter Ready To Wear, 2019

Undercover, Autumn/Winter Ready To Wear, 2019

The novel, which was adapted into film in 1971, is a work of dystopian literature and tells the story of Alex, the young protagonist, who is fascinated by ultra-violence and acts of obscene rebellion, only to be reprimanded by the state and condemned to extreme psychiatry. The film became a cult classic, however it received much backlash and criticism from contemporary viewers due to its graphic and almost unsettling content. As shocking as such a film might’ve been for viewers in the 70s, watching it nowadays garners almost no reaction from me. If anything, it is relatively tame compared to other more graphic and violent films I have seen. 



As well as the references to Kubrick’s revered film, Takahashi also included some references to 17th Century Baroque art. The invitations for the show included a cropped version of painter Caravaggio’s Supper at Emmaus which served as a hint for what could be expected in the show. 

The outfits displayed on the runway included cloaks tethered by ropes, feathered bowler hats and business-like gauntlets. The entire collection was a hybrid of 17th century “streetwear” adorned with references to A Clockwork Orange. The bowler hats and feathered masks were similar to the outfits work by Alex and his comrades in the movie. In addition, fragments of Nadsat, a Russian based dialect coined by Burgess for the novel and used by Alex and is friends throughout the book and in the movie. We also see prints of Alex himself and in one look, the face of Beethoven, the classical composer whose music Alex takes a strong liking to. 

Undercover, Autumn/Winter Ready To Wear, 2019

Undercover, Autumn/Winter Ready To Wear, 2019

Undercover, Autumn/Winter Ready To Wear, 2019

Undercover, Autumn/Winter Ready To Wear, 2019

Overall, we found this show to be incredibly creative and well executed. The clothes did not possess any signs of great craftsmanship, the creativity and the individuality behind the concept of the runway show were for me the most important elements. Of course, it is important for a designer’s ready to wear collection to translate well on and off the runway, but such statements are rarely made amongst the high-end streetwear collective. References to popular culture and art history are two things that never fail to grab our attention and, ultimately, our admiration. 

FASHION

THE FEMINIST ARTIST BEHIND THE FAMED SUPREME BOX LOGO

When one thinks about streetwear, one of the first brands that come to mind is Supreme. It is one of, if not the most, famous streetwear and skating brand in the western world and has been around since 1994. Founded in New York by James Jebbia, what started off as a brand that caters to skateboarding, hip hop and youth culture in general has become a billion-dollar world famous company. It is also known for its collaborations with world renowned brands such as Nike and Louis Vuitton, the latter of which gave the brand a newfound fame and clientele that it otherwise would not have. 

Your body is a battleground, Barbara Kruger, 1989

Your body is a battleground, Barbara Kruger, 1989

Its logo is simple yet striking: the brand’s name in white against a red box. What many people don’t know is the origins of said logo. 

Barbara Kruger is an American contemporary feminist conceptual artist whose work was popularised in the 80s. Kruger grew up in a lower-middle-class household then attended Syracuse University, the School of Visual Arts and Parsons School of Design. At Parsons, she took courses with graphic design and art director Marvin Israel and photographer Diane Arbus. Despite never finishing her fine arts degree, she was able to land a job with Condé Nast Publications through connections and quickly became chief designer at Madmoiselle. As a young woman working in the male-dominated art world, Kruger drew inspiration from movements including second wave feminism to create her poignant work. Sources of inspiration included artists such as Magdalena known for her large-scale textile pieces, and John Heartfield and Hannah Höch, photomontage artists who respectively created antifascist and feminist work in pre-WWII Germany. From her choice of artist, it is evident that Kruger’s art is motivated by her personal discontent with the establishment, be it capitalist or patriarchal. 

In the late 70s and early 80s, she arrived at her now signature style, which often critiques capitalism and patriarchy through word/image juxtapositions that draw inspiration from graphic design, photomontage, Russian constructivism, conceptual art and poetry, among other forms. Said signature style consists of her placing the white Futura Bold Italic font in a red box on top of a pre-existing image, often from various advertisements, serving as a seemingly obvious critique of the image. 

You are not yourself, Barbara Kruger, 1981

You are not yourself, Barbara Kruger, 1981

Although Jebbia has never stated Kruger as his source of inspiration for his brand’s now illustrious logo, the uncanny resemblance is an automatic giveaway. What I find most interesting about Supreme’s appropriation of Kruger’s work is the fact that they have taken the work of a feminist and anti-capitalist artist and profited off it, thereby promoting the same institution against which she protested so publicly. 

In 2013, Supreme hit Leah McSweeney of the brand “Married to the MOB” with a $10 million lawsuit for copyright infringement after McSweeney did a parody of the brand’s logo as “Supreme Bitch.” Just try and ignore the crippling irony for a second as what is most important in this was Kruger’s response. As Complex covered the story, they naturally wondered what the artist’s thoughts on this situation were, and to their questions she responded in an email: 

“What a ridiculous clusterfuck of totally uncool jokers. I make my work about this kind of sadly foolish farce. I’m waiting for all of them to sue me for copyright infringement.” 

  • Kruger’s response to Supreme via a blank email with a Microsoft Word document attached, file name “fools.doc.

In addition to this badass reply, Kruger recently made other statements against the brand. In November 2017, Kruger created a performance art piece in the form of a drop, in collaboration with the skate brand Volcom. People paid $5 to be able to buy clothes and skateboards embellished with the artist’s work. This was clearly a direct criticism of Supreme as they are known for their occasional drops that sell out almost immediately and have hundreds of people lining up outsides stores for hours on end, some even waiting overnight. She also plastered various skate parks across New York City with her art and created limited edition Kruger-branded Metro Cards. 

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Unfortunately, the vast majority of streetwear enthusiasts not only have no idea the origins of their beloved brand’s logo but also just don’t give a shit. I actually find it quite shocking that this isn’t common knowledge because it should be. While Kruger is well revered among the art world, her work has been unable to attain the mainstream “clout” that artists like Murakami and Warhol are privy to. It is because of this that so few people are aware of James Jebbia’s blatant theft of her work and also why she is never credited for Supreme’s fame. 

The misappropriation of her work serves as a conversation starter for artist-designer collaboration, and why artists should be given credit where credit is due. Alas, this is a conversation for another day. 

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KKLL.jpg
KKLL.jpg

FASHION

THE GODFATHER OF FASHION: THE LIFE AND LEGACY OF KARL LAGERFELD

On the 19th of February 2019, the fashion world was shocked when news broke that the legendary Karl Lagerfeld had died from complications of pancreatic cancer. Lagerfeld’s death caused a great deal of upset and anguish amongst the fashion industry, due to the fact that he was such an influential figure in modern fashion. It was so beautiful to see designers, creative directors, fashion editors and models alike coming together to grieve the loss of such a well-known figure and sharing stories on the way in which he had impacted and changed their lives.

Karl Lagerfeld with Gitta Shilling at Jean Patou, 1959

Karl Lagerfeld with Gitta Shilling at Jean Patou, 1959

The German designer’s entrance into the fashion industry began when he entered and won a coat design competition in 1955, sponsored by the International Wool Secretariat. Soon after this, he was hired by Pierre Balmain and worked as his assistant then apprentice for three years. It was under Balmain that Lagerfeld was able to attain some of the skills that would help propel his career in the fashion industry and help him to become the celebrated icon that he was. After working with Balmain, Lagerfeld became the artistic director for the French brand Jean Patou in 1958. Here he designed 10 couture collections spanning over a 5-year tenure and honed his talent as a craftsman and couturier.

In 1964, he went to Rome to study art history and work for Tiziano, whilst freelancing for an array of brands including Chloé, Valentino, Charles Jourdan and Valentino. During all this time, Lagerfeld remained a relatively unknown figure, except to those who possessed vast knowledge about the fashion industry. It wasn’t until 1967 when he was hired by Fendi that Lagerfeld began to gain critical acclaim. He was initially hired to modernise the brand’s fur line but due to his ground-breaking designs. Lagerfeld remained at Fendi until he died.

The height of Lagerfeld’s fame came when he was hired by Chanel in the 1980s. It was a decade after the death of the brand’s founder, Coco Chanel, and it was considered to be a near dead brand due to lack of a cohesive creative vision.

Lagerfeld’s work at Chanel had an undeniable impact on the fashion industry. Coco Chanel believed in the empowerment of women through clothing and was a revolutionary in her own right as she was able to create clothes that were both feminine, liberating and inspiring. Lagerfeld is known to have said: “what I do, Coco would have hated. The label has an image and it’s up to me to update it. I do what she never did. I had to find my mark. I had to go from what Chanel was to what it should be.”

Fendi, Autumn/Winter, 2014

Fendi, Autumn/Winter, 2014

He believed that the highly effeminate and ladylike image that Chanel had at the time was not applicable to the modern fashion climate. Instead, he wanted to experiment with fabrics and styles and, create a more sensual and slightly provocative version of this established fashion house. The most iconic change to Chanel under Lagerfeld was the creation of the now famous interlocked “CC” logo, as a representation of the founder’s name. In addition, Lagerfeld was able to stay ahead of trends, making striking desjgns whilst keeping an element of the traditional Chanel, through his use of tweed and pearls. For me, his incorporation of classic Chanel designs during the grunge movement in the 90s was inspired and something very few designers were able to execute with such finesse; a true testament to his creative genius.

Lagerfeld also redefined fashion shows by creating the most extravagant, creative and impressive shows possible. Every season, he never failed to transform Paris’ Grand Palais to match his unique vision, be it a carousel, a decadent buffet or a man-made street with peaceful protest. My personal favourite was the Chanel supermarket for their Fall/Winter 2014 show, where he recreated a traditional market embellished with the brand’s monogram.

The most recent Autumn/Winter show, which fell after his unfortunate death, was one of his most astounding, creative and well executed shows to date. The show’s alpine theme served as a magical and ethereal backdrop for the elaborate designs which highlighted the glamour and chicness of “chalet life.” The show’s finale saw many models shedding tears, mourning the loss of such a loved figure. Although he was not there, his presence was certainly felt.

For me and many other fashion lovers, Karl Lagerfeld’s influence on the industry is undeniable. He was outspoken, eccentric and insanely talented. One could even argue that he was a jack of all trades, as he dabbled in not only design but creative direction and even photography. I was first blown away by his immense talent when I saw his Little Black Jacket exhibition at the Saatchi in 2012. Here, he displayed 100s of black and white photographs, taken by him, of his favourite muses dressed in this iconic jacket. What I found particularly beautiful was the diversity of the photographs, although all models wore the same jacket, the effect and style of each differed greatly, which is a reflection of his range and talent.

Like with many great couturiers before him, Lagerfeld’s death was met with great sadness and also uncertainty about what the future of the most famous fashion brand was. I do believe that his impact will be long lasting and it is safe to say that no one will ever forget the flamboyant German man with white hair and sunglasses. Before his death, Lagerfeld said, “I would like to be a one-man multinational fashion phenomenon”. Without a doubt, he will be remembered as such.

Chanel, Spring/Summer, 1994

Chanel, Spring/Summer, 1994

Georgia May Jagger, Little Black Jacket Exhibition, 2012

Georgia May Jagger, Little Black Jacket Exhibition, 2012

CONTEMPORARY

“L’IMPRESSIONNISME EST LE JOURNAL DE L’ÂME.”

The title of this piece is a quote from artist Henri Matisse, which means “Impressionism is the newspaper of the soul.” In the same way that newspapers report events from a political standpoint, impressionists do it from a personal one.

Impressionism is a 19th Century artistic movement that was born and bred in the French capital city, Paris. The term “Impressionist” was coined by reporter Louis Leroy, after an exhibition containing Claude Monet’s “Impression, Sunrise.” For Leroy, the work lacked substance and depth, giving away only an “Impression” of the intended subject matter. It is interesting to think that something that was meant as an insult was transformed as a means of identifying one of the most famous and influential movements in art history, and my personal favourite.

The middle of the 19th century was a time of much change and unrest in France. With constant shifts in power, the most dominant and consistent force of power was the Académie des Beaux-Arts. This was an esteemed artistic institution that dictated the rules contemporary artists were expected to follow. The standards set were often consistent with traditional French painting, with predominantly historical and religious subjects

Édouard Manet, A Bar at the Folies-Bergère, 1882

Édouard Manet, A Bar at the Folies-Bergère, 1882

that were expected to be highly stylised and idealised. As well as enforcing said rules, the Académie held an annual art show, the Salon de Paris, in which artists could exhibit their work and win prizes, commissions and ultimately fame and prestige.

 

The Impressionists, on the other hand, cared less about the notoriety of being a conventionally established artist but focused instead on creating works motivated by personal feelings and experiences. One of their main influences was poet Charles Baudelaire, who in his work “The Painter of Modern Life” encouraged modern artists to create works with more realistic and personal subjects. As a result, they were more inclined to paint landscapes and contemporary life rather than follow in line with their contemporaries at the Académie.

Due to the modernisation and expansion of Paris, brought about by Emperor Napoleon III and carried out by architect Georges-Eugène Haussmann, there was increasing poverty, illness, and general unease amongst its modern citizens. The city was growing in size and wealth, and its entertainment industry blooming, and while the bourgeois were profiting from these improvements, those who were less educated and well off did not reap such benefits. Also, the growing size of the city emphasised the disconnect between its citizens and heightened the rising feeling of depression and isolation. Parisians would often take advantage of lavish clubs, inexpensive prostitutes and an obscene amount of absinthe to mask their sadness.

With this in mind, it is no surprise that the Impressionists felt contemporary life would make a much more interesting subject matter than historical or religious works. With an abundance of material in their everyday lives, it would be illogical not to take inspiration from it.

Edgar Degas, L’Absinthe, 1875-76

Edgar Degas, L’Absinthe, 1875-76

Baudelaire also encouraged artists to act as “flâneurs” painting works “en plein air.” They would wander the city streets, with painting materials in hand, ready to capture any moment that inspired them.

Due to the lack of French paintings depicting contemporary subject matter, the Impressionists took inspiration from photography and, somewhat surprisingly, Japanese woodblock prints. The composition of these Japanese works was the primary influence for the Impressionists as they highlighted space and enlarged landscapes. The Impressionist style was characterised by loose brushwork, with the paint being applied impasto (the paint was layered on very thick, creating the illusion of depth).

In hindsight, the Impressionist influence on modern art is undeniable, with artists like Monet, Manet, Degas and Cezanne becoming some of the more revered and celebrated names in the art world. However, like with most artists, this fame was posthumous, and the majority of these painters were unable to reap the rewards of their talent while they were alive. They were rejected continuously from the Salon de Paris. However, it got to the point where there was enough independent work that needed to be exhibited, and the Salon des Refusés was created. Here, some of the most famous impressionist paintings were displayed, and at some point, it even garnered more attention than the traditional Salon de Paris.

The reason for my love of Impressionists is their confidence, independence and creative rebellion. This was a group of artists who were in the midst of one of the most unstable periods in French history and were not confined by societal norms and expectations and were more inclined to create works that they were passionate about. They possessed

Édouard Manet, Olympia, 1863

Édouard Manet, Olympia, 1863

immense talent in accurately portraying the contemporary climate and established a precedent for using art as a means of social commentary, something very few artists before them had done.

FASHION

A YEAR IN REVIEW: FASHION MILESTONES OF 2018

It’s safe to say that 2018 was a pretty strange ass year, dominated by Trump’s tyranny, Brexit and Mark Zuckerberg’s robot-like disposition at congressional hearings. On the other hand, a lot of positive things came out of 2018, like the “Me-Too” movement which set out to expose sexual predators, Saudi women being given the right to drive and, my personal favourite, a black American woman marrying into the British royal family. With this in mind, it is important to think of events, both good and bad, that excited, shocked and disappointed the fashion world as a whole. So, in this post I picked what I think were the three most important events of the 2018 fashion calendar.

1. Edward Enninful’s British Vogue

After his confirmation as editor-in-chief in April 2017, Enninful released his inaugural magazine in December of 2017. This cover, with model Adwoa Aboah on the cover set the precedent for what could be expected from the new and improved magazine in the New Year. When I was younger and developing my interest in the fashion industry, Vogue was my go to magazine. However, after a while, I felt that it became less and less interesting and appealing as the style of writing and the content seemed to become less relatable. My interest was once again sparked when I saw that a West African man was set to head the most prestigious fashion magazine in the world. What I find most appealing about Enninful’s Vogue is his ability to pay homage and respect to the magazines heritage whilst simultaneously appealing to the younger generation. As I see it, Enninful has perfectly united the dichotomy between the older and newer readers. With the inclusion of a more racially diverse set of models, mentions of up and coming designers and a stronger online presence, Enninful was able to attract the youth, such as myself. One of my favourite issues was the May issue, where young models from different Ethnic backgrounds graced the double spread cover. It was highly inspired and the epitome of the sort of inclusion I wish was seen across the board in the fashion industry. I give Enninful an 11/10 in his first year as editor-in-chief, and I can’t wait to see what else he has planned for his tenure.

British Vogue, September 2018 Issue

British Vogue, September 2018 Issue

 

2. Virgil Abloh at Louis Vuitton

When it was announced that Kim Jones would be stepping down as artistic director of Louis Vuitton menswear, there was much speculation and buzz as to who would take his place under the prestigious fashion house. In March 2018, the public learned that Virgil Abloh would be the new artistic director and this news was met with both shock and praise. Abloh, who, like many modern designers had no traditional fashion education, and was rather trained an architect. He made his start in the fashion industry by interning at Fendi with his close friend, Kanye West. He then went on to establish his first brand, Pyrex Vision, which he described as a couture streetwear brand. After this came the reason for his mainstream success and fame, Off-White which is seen as a high-end streetwear brand. This brand put Abloh on the map, essentially making him the leading figure in expensive streetwear. For this reason, I found it interesting and almost shocking that LV would choose Abloh to lead such a prestigious brand. I think they were inspired by the changing climate of the fashion industry, with more and more high-end brands being influenced by streetwear. His appointment did ensure his place amongst a small and elite group of African designers who headed high fashion brands, with the likes of Ozwald Boateng and Olivier Rousteing. His inaugural show fell during Spring/Summer 2019 Menswear Paris fashion week and it was a momentous occasion to say the least. Held in the gardens of the Palais-Royale, the collection as displayed on a sprawling rainbow catwalk, with many items based on the Wizard of Oz, a story that closely resembles Abloh’s rise to stardom. Despite my personal belief that Abloh doesn’t possess the talent or skill to head the menswear sector of such an established brand, it goes without saying that his appointment is a huge milestone for the black community. It will be interesting to see how far Abloh will go with Louis Vuitton and what he has in store for the rest of his seasons as artistic director.

Louis Vuitton Menswear, Spring/Summer 2019, Paris

Louis Vuitton Menswear, Spring/Summer 2019, Paris

 

3. Hedi Slimane’s Disastrous Debut

Like with many unexpected changes in the fashion world, the news that after a decade as creative director of French fashion house, Céline, Phoebe Philo would be stepping down from her role was met with much upset. There was equally a certain level of excitement in anticipation as to who would replace the celebrated designer. In January 2018, it was announced that Hedi Slimane, who had previously worked at Dior Homme and Saint Laurent, would assume the role of creative director. Now, I was super excited for Slimane’s tenure because I loved his work under Dior Homme. I felt as though his stint was a testament to his craftsmanship and talent as a designer, as menswear is a hard sector to master. His work was sleek, simple and classic, so one would hope that he would apply the same to his work at Céline, right? Well, when his inaugural Spring/Summer 2019 collection was displayed in Paris, it was met with immense outrage from the fashion community. Slimane had said prior to the show that his style significantly differed that of Philo’s and as a result, his clothes would be quite different. However, even with this in mind, no one could anticipate the complete desecration of the precedent set by Philo. Essentially, Slimane recreated his 80s-style disco clothing that we saw while he was at Saint Laurent and while it worked at the time for that brand, it was certainly not applicable here. Some argue that the main reason Slimane’s collection was such a disastrous failure was because he is a man, and as a result is unable to appropriately create practical but chic clothing for a female clientele.

Celine, Spring/Summer 2019, Paris

Celine, Spring/Summer 2019, Paris

With all this in mind, it’s evident that 2018 was a monumental year in the fashion industry, considering that this is only a fraction of the important events that took place last year. What I think is most important for us to take away from these events is the rapidly changing climate of the fashion industry. There is much modernisation and development to the sort of content that we see every day in fashion and it is inspiring but also emphasises how much more needs to be done in order for the fashion industry to be as relatable and accessible as possible.

CONTEMPORARY

DONNA PRUDENTE, DONNA ECCELLENTE: THE REPRESENTATION OF THE FEMALE FORM IN ITALIAN RENAISSANCE ART.

Donna prudente, donna eccellente” an Italian folk saying which translates as “A prudent woman is a good woman.”, and one of many quotes originating in the Renaissance that encapsulates the obsession with depictions of women that is emblematic of the era.

The “Renaissance” is a French word, meaning rebirth, and is used to define a period from the 14thCentury to the 17thCentury, a time of cultural revival and renewed interest in classical antiquity. This rebirth touched multiple sectors of society, namely Literature, Philosophy, Science, Music and most importantly, for the purposes of this post, Art and Architecture. This occurred in a time of growing wealth throughout Italy, particularly in the Catholic Church, and saw more and more works of art being commissioned not only by independent patrons but by Popes throughout the centuries, thus heightening the status of artists of the age.  Unsurprisingly, however, despite the profound socio-economic transformation, women encountered a negligible improvement in autonomy and independence, and were often seen as extensions of their male relations – be they fathers or husbands. More on that in a moment.

Back to the Renaissance, with its style which saw stylists and artists strive for perfection, or as close to it as is humanly possible. Artists like Michelangelo, Raphael and Leonardo da Vinci led this movement by creating highly idealised works of awe-inspiring beauty, whilst simultaneously making use of mathematical precision.

This obsession with both stylistic and realistic perfection was most visible in the Renaissance depictions of women, among which the three most common representations of women were women of court, the Virgin Mary and mythical women.

In the most obvious case of life imitating art, women at the time were essentially expected to emulate and imitate the practically perfect representation of them seen in artworks. And as the vast majority of artists at the time were men, this therefore affected their female renditions, with their works often being a projection of their own fantasy of the female form.

Consequently, there appeared a dichotomy between the different depictions of women in art works: some were sexualised and objectified – often depicted in the nude – while others were idealised in their facial features.

  • Contemporary Women

Due to the growing wealth and status of many families at the time, particularity those in Florence, they were more and more inclined to commission portraits of their family members which would encapsulate said wealth and status. It was not uncommon to include all members of their family and the court, and thus the female members of the family. Women of the court fell into one of two categories: wife and mother or daughter, or potential wife. Despite this distinction, both groups of women were expected to be represented in almost the same way, though in the depictions of the wives it was important to highlight their fertility and beauty. All the same, while men were portrayed as most puissant and intellectual, women were used as symbols of wealth as they were often clothed in heavily adorned dress, emphasising the status of their family. Furthermore, it was not uncommon for women to be depicted with children or animals, by way of highlighting their maternal traits and ability to care for others. For the daughters of the court, it was essential for them to be as beautiful and desirable as possible for potential suitors, hence why their facial features were highly idealised.

 
Bronzino, Portrait of Eleanor of Toledo. 1545 & Leonardo da Vinci, Lady with an Ermine, 1489-90

Bronzino, Portrait of Eleanor of Toledo. 1545 & Leonardo da Vinci, Lady with an Ermine, 1489-90

 

The Virgin Mary

The Virgin Mary, often called the Madonna, was another popular subject for Renaissance artists arising from the fact that the majority of works commissioned at the time were done by the Vatican. The Madonna was a symbol of purity, faith and maternity – characteristics expected of women at the time. Despite being held to such a high standard, her existence is in itself paradoxical as for contemporary women, the “Immaculate Conception” was an unattainable goal set for them by patriarchs.

Raphael, Madonna del Cardellino, 1505-06 & Titian, The Aldobrandini Madonna, 1532

Raphael, Madonna del Cardellino, 1505-06 & Titian, The Aldobrandini Madonna, 1532

 

Mythical Women

Lastly, we have the representation of mythical female figures, with Venus as the most popularly. As the most represented mythical goddess of love and beauty, her rendition is (unsurprisingly) often in the nude, and she is portrayed as a submissive object that is worthy of admiration and desire. This objectification of the female mythical nude represents not only innocuous male fantasy but is yet another form of patriarchal oppression in how it sets unrealistic expectations for the female spectators of who view the works.

Botticelli, The Birth of Venus, 1484-86 & Titian, Venus of Urbino, 1534

Botticelli, The Birth of Venus, 1484-86 & Titian, Venus of Urbino, 1534

All in all, these different representations give us an insight into the way people thought of women at the time. Unlike the modern, not all women were objectified and sexualised. Although they were merely extensions of their male relations, women of the court were able to maintain their dignity and purity in a way that mythical women were not able to. These were highly sexualised and served as fulfilment for male fantasies, as male artists chose not to portray real women in the nude in order to restrict women by suggesting that their only realistic aspiration was one of incredibly wealthy and beautiful women.