Evening Jacket

Origin: Italy

Year: Fall/Winter 1997-1998

Donor: Courtesy of Antonio Marras

Materials: Lace, ribbon embroidery, netting, man’s recycled vintage wool suit jacket, threadwork, sequins and feathers.

Antonio Marras’ (Alghero, 1961) work has dealt with issues of historical past and memory, along with questions concerning identity, multi-locality, and globalization. Marras, born and raised on the island of Sardinia, and so away from the mainland of all things canonically Italian, is part of that constituency in the globalized world that has continued to give attention to the exploration of the local traditions and histories, to the local and the global, and to the vision of roots as a point of departure for further explorations and experimentations, and not as a destination. Marras offers a creative dialogue with the past, tradition and folkloric dress, geographical landscape, territory, and all the hidden nuances that come with a modern engagement with the past without stereotypes, a past that is emotionally evoked in the folds and intersections of the present. Marras does this in the collection dedicated to the writer and photographer AnneMarie Schwarzenbach; it was also to Scharzenbach that he dedicated his first pret-a-porter collection in 1998 and it was to her that he returned in the Fall 2014 collection presented in Milan. The Spring of 2015 was dedicated to his long time friend and artist Carol Rama (Turin, 1918- 2015) in a collection inspired by Rama’s paintings.

A fluid image of femininity and masculinity are part of Marras’ exploration in dress. However, nostalgia for the past is always out of place despite his allegiances to the local. It is in the directions of exploration of local traditions, craft, and cultures in contemporary fashion design, between outer and inner space, where dress and textiles position themselves in a constant interplay and flux. What he wishes to express, instead, is the multilayered dimension of any idea of home that is inextricably connected with the actuality of a journey. Sardinia can be found in Argentina (another of Marras’ inspirations) or other parts of the world, and vice versa—other localities transformed into almost forgotten corners of Sardinia.

This ensemble, typical of Marras’ work with recycled clothing, combines local Sardinian materials in a fashion spectacle that defies classical concepts of beauty. A very definite fashion statement, it addresses issues of high and low culture, gender norms, and distinction of class. The jacket’s combination of a man’s wool suit jacket with ultra-feminine lace, ribbon work, and feathers, creates an unexpected effect that blurs notions of male and female, with the intention of shock practiced by the avant-garde. In another reversal, the inner lining of the jacket is covered with sequins, antithetical in their usual glittering display, making the garment impractical for comfortable wear. In these outré choices, Marras seems to satirize high fashion and all its trappings.