Testo di Maria Solovieova
Slowly, step by step, the past is coming to us. Slowly, step by step, we are coming to its boggy ground. The end of the 18th century, the middle of 19th century, the 20th century is passing by.
There are scanty inscriptions on the tablets, the names and life stories of the famous and influential ladies of their times, written in two or three lines. Someone was going crazy about them, someone, quite the contrary, hated them and envied them, but for us they are just a few pale ghosts of the past, slightly painted in colors of real life by two or three dresses left over from their once-a-luxurious wardrobe.
But they were living their lifes, breathing, loving, charming and dictating fashion. Are we really able to imagine how it was?
In front of us there are the monuments of a bygone era, shadows of generations of our grandmothers and great-grandmothers, which are not so far from us in fact, but already incomprehensible, unclear, lost somewhere in the memories.
As if inviting us further into the past, the authors of the exhibition are courtesy taking our hand and leading us through the halls, counting on our immagination or at least on a little bit of fantasy. ‘Cause now in front of us there are only the hats, and nothing more. Some of them are touching, others are threatening, some are fanciful, delicate. Some of them are threadbare, others were worn just once, but there are hundreds of them, each with a short note: who’s it by and the year of born.
Observing this exhibition from the banal point of view, you’d get bored soon, ‘cause its creators were surely not going to entertain a random public, truly believing in the power of imagination of the hats authors as well as in the diversity of the collection, which is more than enough to brighten up any afternoon, even the most grey one.
But if only for a moment you’d close your eyes, if you’d imagine just for a second…
Here is a refined and delicate nymph going for a walk to the Luxembourg Garden with her governess. And here is another, after a dozen years, wrapped in ostrich feathers and cigarette smoke, flying in the cab for to dance a furious foxtrot. And there is a third one, clickering her high heels on deserted sidewalks of postwar Berlin…
In Paris, Brussels, New York, catching the alcoholic scents of night bars and casinos, we are burnt by the lights of night avenues, and then, just in a second, we are captured by fascinating blue of the sea, the rustle of pebbles on the Cote d’Azur, and then, looking on the right, we are turning out to be in Algeria with its sultry purple nights and spice flavors! .. And everywhere there are hundreds, thousands of real lives.
And all of them were breathing, waiting, they were in love and… they never forgot that before going out on the street a woman should wear a hat without having risk to be accepted as indecent. All of them knew, that the hat, even with the most modest budget, can become a real decoration of a lady, can emphasize the best in her, her eyes, smile, the eyebrow line…
From time to time there are some pieces of modern Prada (2004-2005) or Chanel (2009-2010) watching us as an indifferent reproach. There is even a stunning Ferre’ work, which is impossible to be passed by indifferently.
But we are looking at them distantly, knowing perfectly that we’d never wear them, nor for to go to work, nor for the dinner with a boyfriend, neither to the meeting with friends.
‘Cause it’d be uncomfortable, awkward, funny… “How would I look in the subway with such a hat?”, “What would they think in the office about me?” or “No, he will surely laugh at me!” Pondering over questions like these, mentally we are trying on accessories of the bygone era, totally succumbed to the influence of immortal Mademoiselle and her new, largely masculine, elegance. (But I’d like to remind you, that Chanel had unfortune to ne not a beautiful, neither graceful woman, so the only single way for her to become adorable was to play the contrast inventing the style “like a boy”).
Catching our reflections in the showcases, we could “try on” some of these hats, as if using photoshop. There are some poppies, violets, birds, ruffles,.. Oh my God, so ridiculous!
Nevertheless, going from one showcase to another, I’m starting to think that maybe it’d be a hat, so inevitable and necessary, so excessive and elegant, so bright and restrained, which will eventually return us the femininity, elegance and mysteriousness, which we’ve almost lost with the help of feminism, fashion industry and underwear advertising.
Cause from time to time I miss it. And what’s about you?