The year was 1848. Revolutions were sweeping across continental Europe. In Britain, the country was unsettled by the growing call of reform, not only socially, but also in the art world. Seven young London artists including William Holman Hunt, John Everett Millais and Dante Gabriel Rossetti banded together to form a secret society, the "Pre-Raphaelite Brotherhood." The P.R.B. was inspired by art of the late medieval and early Renaissance period prior to Raphael, and was characterized by the use of bright colors, incredible detail and "noble" or religious subject matter. In short, it was serious, sincere and true to nature.
The Pre-Raphelites showed up more recently on the Valentino Couture runway for Fall 2014. A romantic yet "raw" collection, there was a charming naive, rustic even quality to the deceptively-simple looks - in particular, the lace-up gladiator sandals, which have suitably serious origins: to protect Roman gladiators' feet from the blood-drenched sand in the arenas where they fought each other to the death. While gladiators wore the footwear for practical purposes, their fellow Romans followed suit for more fashionable ones. "Roman sandals were designed by prominent artists of the period, and because they were such precious creations, were often buried with the owner," explains the St. Joseph News-Press. "The Romans can take credit for elevating the sandal to a level of high art."
High art? Not in my book. But extremely cool, absolutely.
This type of footwear provides a timely nod to craftsmanship and fashion history. "Memory is an important part of our future," observes Pierpaolo Piccioli, one half on the Valentino design team with Maria Grazia Chiuri. Honoring the past to keep it alive is one of the signatures of the Folkspun fashion tribe. For more of my posts about podcasts about this tribe, CLICK HERE. To learn more about all the fashion tribes I track and write about, START HERE.
- Lesley Scott