By David Pesin
My initial interest establishes its presence in the composition of military uniform (in context) with the human body. I questioned the following; What is a uniform? What is its purpose? Why has the Hussar military jacket become such a timeless fashion piece? In the past weeks I have read, explored and sketched multi-structural renditions of what I reimagined the statement military coat would appear like today. Much of my focus was placed on the idea of establishing a high fashion appearance through the playfulness of performance and theater. My interest in military uniform was instantly sparked upon the class readings on Barthes, who generalized the origins of fashion to come from theater itself. “ Dress history really did not begin until Romanticism and then it was undertaken by theater specialist it is because actors wanted to play their roles in the clothes of the period that painters and designers began to shift systematically towards historically accuracy in their appearances” to play and explore the imagination of theater through costume transforms the esthetic value of a garment. It raises its fashion market value, it performs to the viewer as a work of art rather than a replication of simplicity.
Exploring theater is exploring the surreal and endless universe of emotion. My vision of a garment does not solely exist in its practical form of attire, but rather in its decoration value. There is a hope that a viewer experience emotion in seeing my garment, through memory, through joy, through horror, through the ever ending experimentation of material. Yet, what I questioned was, how can I make a garment modest, staying loyal to its origin but explore the possibilities of material combinations. Through reading Alexander Tolstoy’s War and Peace I envisioned and felt it would be valuable to explore the gender-neutral experience of the military uniform, yet retaining values of broad shoulder structure, sharp edges and posture exposing back/bust structure. The novel is based around an epic war, and the relationships that exist within the environment. The focus on the aristocrat class creates beautiful imagery of elegant lifestyle. I found the novel to be forcefully lead by masculinity, much importance is placed on these hussars who’s personalities prevail in argument and dramatic conversation. I took the strictly organized masculine Hussar jacket, and remodeled it for a modern chic woman’s jacket. As an example of gender I bring up Cerankowski, the queer dandy style “The most he could accomplish was to appear non-masculine as others to appropriate male behaviors” this demonstrates the reverse expectation of male aggressiveness with manipulation. I am excited therefore to take on the masculine established uniform, and explore its feminine shape. For a garment to be gendered means that the garment holds aspects of a particular sex. As an example, for a garment to be masculine it will consist of a broad shoulder, with a tighter base.
On the other hand a woman’s garment would likely have tighter upper body with a loose base. These of course are generalized examples of garment in the current couture industry yet these are the strict guidelines I’m looking to express. By placing feminine structures on a masculine based garment allows me to overextended particular parts on the patterns. Therefore the back becomes wider, the shoulders become wider, to create the oversized effect, with a structural hold. I tightened the arms to fit the thin (model) circumference of a feminine upper arm, a technique I repeated when altering the waist.
I chose to use wool (as originally used) to keep the valuable function of a warm jacket, additionally, this gives the garment sharp structure and enhances the curves of the body. Even through a jacket I believe it is important to follow the master of form-fitting wool jackets, Yves Saint Laurent. I took the chance to explore the scandal collection of 1971 which presented the rebellious displacement of gender amongst uniformed attire. I found great inspiration for material exploration, and most importantly space for me to modernize this approach of adjusting the classic garment.
I chose to remain humble with a palette and chose black as the dominant color, using multiple fabric types to create layers, and beautiful combination. I am additionally looking to incorporate personal braided details on the coat using a black wool/silk. By adding this detail I am able to contain a classical technique with a modern approach. The wool/silk act accordingly with the wool coat structure, creating a soft display of military uniform signifiers. Additionally, this action becomes a play on a gendered garment, my ability to corrupt the uniform and create a theatrical garment, becomes a beautiful performance piece.
In combining both the restructured garment, the grotesque and powerful history of the garment and a modern take on material combination I will recreate the classic hussar jacket. To explore something so simple, it is easy to cross the line in attempting to be overly ambitious. I particularity enjoy the restrained freedom, as it gives me rules to break , but I am in charge of the result of the broken rules.