• Wearing magic: The legacy of the esoteric in in haute couture

Richards, Jennifer, 2023, Journal Article, Wearing magic: The legacy of the esoteric in in haute couture Journal of Design History, Special Edition "Design & The Occult", N/A (N/A). N/A. ISSN N/A (Submitted)

Abstract or Description:

In Chanel Savie,(2011) Justine Picardie states that In Coco Chanel’s Paris apartment, the Lenormand Tarot deck sits untouched since her death in 1971.
Coco Chanel had a deeply rooted fascination with cosmology, astrology and numerology, something she transposed from her own encounters as a child. Her experiences growing up inside a convent shaped her beliefs and had a profound impact on her life. These events are subsequently evidenced through to the very roots and ideals of her own fashion house. She became fascinated, bordering on the obsessive with numerology, and thus legend has it that this way how the iconic No5 perfume was born.
The aesthetic nature of Fashion lends itself easily to the integration of symbols and forms of the Occult, such as stars, pyramids and geometric symbols. This focus on the esoteric elements of the symbols, allows haute couture to remain mysterious, as these symbols have become eroded over time and are only accessible to those who are “enlightened”. Meanings can be hidden and complex, thus adding to the secretive nature of the couture world.
Designers working at major couture houses such as Maria Grazia Chiuri at Dior and
Alessandro Michele at Gucci, have both been inspired with the Tarot’s iconography and have subsequently weaved their meanings and esoteric natures throughout their collections. Maria Grazia Chiuri’s Le Chateau du Tarot was Dior’s Spring 2021 Collection, explored through a virtual couture show, communicated digitally by a 15 minute film. Tarot has a rich history throughout the house of Dior with Christian Dior himself discovering Tarot when his sister disappeared during the Second World War. He used the Tarot as a sign of hope that she would return.
Alessandro Michele’s Collection for Gucci A/W 2017 created an Arcane world replete with the 22 Major Arcana depicted through the lens of photographer Tim Walker. Blending together high art, fashion and culture it culminated in a 32 page document for Another Magazine entitled “Modern Mythologies”.
By close reading of key examples within haute couture collections, we can observe and trace the histories and myths surrounding these potent symbols. From the very beginnings of the houses of Chanel and Dior, this fascination with the occult was prevalent and this paper will explore these influences examining the designers, influences and impact that these symbols have within the different collections. This research supports the assertion that the use of these symbols within haute couture collections is not only an esoteric choice, but an integral part of the making process and subsequently the couture houses’ identity.

Subjects: Creative Arts and Design > W200 Design studies
School or Centre: School of Design
Identification Number or DOI: N/A
Date Deposited: 13 May 2024 12:57
Last Modified: 13 May 2024 12:58
URI: https://researchonline.rca.ac.uk/id/eprint/5826
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