Futurist Fashion 1933


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Giacamo Balla, “Futurist Embroidered Waistcoat,” 1924-25. Biagiotti Cigna Foundation

Fashion exists as a system of signifiers.

Roland Barthes, The Fashion System

I am reading a fantastic book edited by Cristina Giorcelli and Paula Rabinowitz called Accessorizing the Body that charts the intimate connections between body and the shoe, the hat, the handbag, sunglasses, and other form of accessories throughout history. The cultural, political, and social expression of fashion continues to inspire my scholarship.

In Futurist Accessories, Franca Zoccoli delineates the importance of accessories such as ties, hats, and shoes in the aesthetics of the Italian Futurist movement. Here’s an excerpt from F. T. Marinetti’s Il Manifesto futuristo del cappello italiano (The futurist Manifesto of the Italian hat) from the Gazzetta del Popolo published on February 26, 1933.

1.We condemn the Nordic use of black and neutral colors, which bring a muddy stagnant melancholy to the rainy, snowy and foggy streets of the city making it look as if there are enormous logs, boulders, and turtles being swept along in a brown deluge.

2.We condemn the traditional, passatist headgear that is so out of touch with the aesthetics, the practicality, and the speed of our great mechanical civilization. For example, the pretentious top hat that prevents fast movement and attracts funerals. In August when the Italian streets are full of blinding light and torrid silence, the black or gray hat of the man in the street drifts above, dreary as dung. Color! Color is needed to compete with the sun of Italy.

3.We propose the Futurist functionality of the hat, which until today has been of little or no use to Man, but which from the day forth must illuminate him, mark him, take care of him, defend him, make him faster, and cheer him etc. We will create the following type of hat…:

1.The velocity hat (for everyday wear); 2.The night hat (for evening wear); 3. The luxury hat (for parades); 4.The aero-sport hat; 5.The sun hat; 6.The rain hat; 7.The mountain hat; 8.The sea hat; 9.The defense hat; 10.The poetic hat; 11.The advertising hat; 12.The simultaneous hat; 13.The plastic hat; 14.The tactile hat; 15.The light signal hat; 16.The sound hat; 17.The radio-telephone hat; 18.The therapeutic hat (resin, camphor, or menthol with a band moderating cosmic waves) 19.The automatic greeting hat (with a system of infared rays) 20.The intelligent making hat for idiots who criticize this manifesto. 

They will be made of felt, velvet, straw, cork, lightweight metals, glass, celluloid, compounds, hide, sponge, fiber, neon-tubing, etc. either separately or combines.

The colorful nature of these hats will being the flavor of huge dishes of fruit and the luxury of huge jewelry shops to the streets. The streets at night will be perfumed and illuminated by melodious currents which will destroy forever the tired-out sentimentality for moonlight.  

I love when he accuses the top hat of attracting funerals and of course how #20 is for the idiots who criticize his manifesto!

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Illustration by Giacomo Balla to accompany his 1914 manifesto Il vestito antineutrale





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