Medievalism: it’s the fashion craze that’s sweeping the nation! As you may recall, only a few months ago, it was Manolo Blahnik crafting fashionably torturous armored high heels for the modern woman. Now it’s Vera Wang, who is describing her new collection as “modern medieval.” Me, I’m not so sure:
OK, yeah, you got me. That’s not Vera Wang. That’s actually the “Deluxe Barbarian Queen” fancy dress costume available at finer web retailers. But in my defense, it is certainly very modern (her axe is plastic!), and probably about as medieval as the real deal. If you don’t believe me, well, this is actually the Wang:
Wait, hold on, I’m getting word now that that’s actually the “Pup Royale,” a doggie costume from the same site as the Barbarian Queen. Apparently, there are technical issues here with our servers at Got Medieval, so you’ll just have to follow the original link to see the real Wang.
But if you’re the sort who refuses to follow links on principle, the article I linked offers this explanation of what she meant by “Modern Medieval”:
“Techno fabrics and modern architectural silhouettes combined with the romance of old world Venice through soft organzas and the illusion of Fortuny pleating vis-à-vis sewn strips of fabric that created a bib effect on some of the dresses.”
Now, my reading comprehension skills aren’t what they once were, but it seems like the “medieval” part of “modern medieval” is “the romance of old world Venice” as manifested in “soft organzas” and “the illusion of Fortuny pleating.” Of course, as a non-queer-eyed American male,* I have no idea what any of this means. But thanks to my crack research staff*** I am starting to understand.
Mariano Fortuny was an early 20th-century designer famous for making long pleated tea gowns for turn-of-the-century socialites inspired by ancient Greek art.**** (It has to be the “illusion of Fortuny pleats” because his top secret pleating technique, like Greek Fire, has rarely been duplicated.) Organza is a thin, transparent silk fabric first made in the 1800’s. And while “old world” is a weasely word, usually the oldest world people associate with Venice is the the world inhabited by Donatello, Michaelangelo, and the other ninja turtles, which is to say Renaissance–not medieval–Venice.
So, by “modern medieval,” Vera Wang means some amalgam of 20th-century Spanish design, 19th-century fabric, and 15th- or 16th-century Italian romance. Or, in other words, “kinda old-timey.” Awesome. Matthew Gabriele and company, it looks like your trademark is safe.
*Carson, why won’t you return my phone calls?**
**Does the fact that your show ended in 2007 have anything to do with it? Because I’d totally understand if that’s the case.
****The dresses were inspired. Not the socialites.