This week's Closet Thinker from the Telegraph (posted late, for which I apologise); shoes from Alexander McQueen (sadly sold out at net-a-porter, but please tell if you find anything similar on the High Street -- black roses, silver heels and perspex -- v. clever):
A century ago the Italian poet Filippo Tommaso Marinetti launched his Manifesto of Futurism, a startling document published on the front page of Le Figaro in February 1909. The Futurists, he declared, would celebrate ‘a new beauty, the beauty of speed’; the movement’s artists would ‘glorify war – the world’s only hygiene’, and sweep away the art forms of previous generation, in a triumphant uprising of youth: ‘For too long has Italy been a dealer in second-hand clothes. We will free Italy from her innumerable museums which cover her like countless cemeteries.’
An early member of the Italian Fascist Party, Marinetti went on to support Mussolini; but his politics seem not to have deterred a number of contemporary fashion designers from citing Futurism in their current collections. Who knows whether they’ve embarked upon an in-depth study of the Manifesto – a document that will presumably be available at the Tate Modern when its Futurism exhibition opens next week – but it does provide a context for several leading designers’ work this season. Missoni’s spring/summer collection includes prints inspired by Italian Futurist art (in particular Dottori’s ‘aero-paintings’); and the hi-tech futurism displayed at Calvin Klein, Yves St Laurent, Gareth Pugh and Alexander McQueen seems of a piece with Marinetti’s advocacy of technological innovation and slick urban industry. “We want no part of it, the past,” he wrote in his Manifesto, “we the young and strong Futurists!”
Of course, however passionate the commitment to a vision of the future, it can still have a distinct whiff of the past. Gareth Pugh’s version of futurism is a sci-fi fantasy with dresses that hover somewhere between costume designs for ‘Predator’ and historical drama, encompassing medieval armour and Elizabeth ruffs, mixed up with extra-terrestrial reptilian scales. As for Francisco Costa’s current collection for Calvin Klein: he uses the silvery semi-sheer fabrics of an eroticised Hollywood space-age movie, the kind where beautiful heroines display a flash of nipple alongside the blaze of their laser-guns.
Marinetti never went as fast as he had hoped – in fact, he wrote his Futurist manifesto after crashing his car into a ditch to avoid two cyclists – and his poems and plays have mostly lapsed into obscurity. It remains to be seen whether fashion’s latest take on Futurism will survive beyond this summer, or sink, deflated, into a morass of discarded clothes. Right now, I’m more intrigued by the report that three astronauts in the International Space Station have been watching the remake of ‘Star Trek’ on a laptop, thereby proving that the past is always present in the future.