good news #21
Four museum must-sees
The MUCEM museum of Marseille retraces the history of five garments through time: the tank top, the jogging suit, the espadrille, the blue workman’s jacket, and the kilt. And four of them are about undressing!
The tank top
Since the end of the 19th century, the tank top is the symbol of virility, from the hot manual worker to the extreme sexiness shown by Matt Dillon as Rusty James (1983), whose white wife beater made our hearts flutter. But the tank top was never as attractive as when women grabbed it for themselves during the period between the two wars, like, for example, when René Perle wore it without a bra captured by the lens of Jacques-Henri Lartigue.
The jogging suit
It was the sports uniform for English and American universities at the end of the 19th century. Practical for taking a walk or resting after a sports match without fear of catching a cold, it became a streetwear emblem at the end of the 1970s. “Today, the representation of the jogging suit is all over popular culture, ever since hip hop evolved by leaps and bounds to become a truly global culture,” explains Isabelle Crampes and Coline Zellal, the exhibit’s two curators.
The blue worker’s jacket
This is an example of the type of garment that responds to a function that defines its aesthetic: during the industrial revolution, its indigo blue color became the color of manual labor, as opposed to the white (collar) of its hierarchical superiors. Above all, the blue work jacket is practical. The cotton it is made of allows for easy washing and protection from accidents like fire. Worn with its matching pants, the concept of a worker’s uniform was reinterpreted by fashion designers at the turn of the 21st century, who transformed it into an elegant feminine garment, designers like Viktor & Rolf, Kenzo or Prada.
The long march of the espadrille into an object of cool has taken forever. 4000 years ago, these shoes, with their supple soles of braided plant fibers, were worn by the Greeks and Egyptians. They were named “espardenya” in Catalonia during the Middle Age - with or without laces wrapped around the heel. After being tucked away in the closet in the 1970s because they were judged too tacky, they are now the main fashionable summer accessory that can be worn at the beach laced up like slippers or in a more chic way, like Grace Kelly showed us in “To Catch a Thief” (1955).
“Model Garments” - through December 2020 at the MUCEM. Georges-Henri-Rivière building, 13002 Marseille.