It is possible to achieve design uniqueness and meaningfulness by delving far back into the history of mankind. What are our cultural roots and how are they expressed? When the answers to these questions inform our present efforts, extraordinary designs can be created. Symbols from nature are found on ancient Greek and Roman pottery. Wine was an essential part of social and cultural ceremony as it still is today. Symbols of this continuity are a reminder of human reliance on nature’s bounty. They have strong impact across the years and make us aware of our connection to the natural world that we often forget in our hectic and technology oriented lives.
Viewing ancient clothing the archeological way
Fragments of pottery, sculptures and rock paintings inform us of how man lived thousand of years ago. It’s possible to see how people worked, conceived of the world and how they dressed in the days when all materials were natural.
Clothing is a unique way that humans express their individuality and status. Archeology is a field which tells us a great deal about the cultural significance of clothing and its connection to individuals past and present. It’s possible to see reflections of the past in contemporary design. When we do this, we establish a rich continuity of human experience and can make a forceful statement that is wearable and unique.
Much information is available to us from Egyptian antiquities. The walls of tombs are emblazoned with scenes of battle, agriculture and imperial force. A common element is the connection of nature to man. This is evident in the symbols of wheat, grapevines, rope, flowers and leaves. Simple cleans lines typify both ancient Greek and Egyptian clothing.
Two symbols of the past are the fringe and tassel. These elements were found in Minoan garments of ancient Crete dating back to a period as early as 1800 BC. Like the sheaths of Egyptians, their clothes were simple and form fitting. They were constructed and sewn together like human clothing of today. Typical fabrics were leather, linen and wool (Fashion Encyclopedia).
A major French design house of great repute, Balmain, has decided to showcase the roots of ancient civilizations in a collection of elegant designs. Designs echo the Minoans, who cherished their clothing as significant art work, incorporating fabric, form and symbology from nature to express human connection, culture and expression.
Two garments that exemplify the essence of this collection are a simple sheath embellished with tassels and a linen colored fringed garment reflective of nature. Both garments reflect Egyptian and Minoan design in their body formed lines accentuating the beauty of the human figure.
An elegant shimmering evening dress of Balmain design features entwined grape vines that hug the body and accentuate the human form. This garment has much in common with Minoan design which highlights the body and connection to nature. While perfect for the most formal occasions, this dress is understated in its simplicity while highlighting the uniqueness of the person wearing it.
Of the same designer, yet self-effacing in its stark simplicity, a short-sheathed dress of natural linen, fringed with strands echoing very ancient Greek and Egyptian past, presents itself as a costume of supreme elegance.
The integration of ancient symbols, nature and human essentials that are still as relevant today as they were three thousand years ago, make a powerful fashion statement in Balmain’s design. Simple structure, natural materials and texture, flowing lines and a delight in that which is so important to human roots and continuity speak out in these garments. The sentiment “I am of the earth and I rejoice in being human” is implicit in their very nature.
- Fashion Encyclopedia. Minoan Dress. Retrieved from http://www.fashionencyclopedia.com/fashion_costume_culture/The-Ancient-World-Greece/Minoan-Dress.html#ixzz51LYLr3rd
- Museum of Fine Arts. Greek Community Day. Retrieved from http://www.mfa.org/news/greek-community-day