Monday Muse: S-T-R-I-P-E-S-!

by - January 18, 2016

Question everything. Every stripe, every star, every word spoken. Everything.
Ernest Gaines

The Heritage of the Stripe

The other day (or actually a couple of weeks ago -maybe even a few months ago, I can't be sure....) I watched a documentary about Picasso, mainly focusing on the influence he's had on art, but also on lifestyle. The curator of the Victoria & Albert Museum explained the impact of Picasso on fashion. Being there in Paris among all artists (and thereby thus also creators of clothing) they naturally influenced eachother, looked (up) at eachothers work and adapted it into their own field of knowledge. As the curator said "fashion comments on modern life." Hereby modern life's been explained as the current being and excistence of what's going on in society.

As we all know, Picasso wasn't shy to experiment with his depcition and didn't step away from any medium to convey his inner images on (even pottery has been victimized). His steps into fashion, which wasn't conveyed in the documentary, goes further than just influencing some wandering spirits. He himself experimented with fabric and designed prints to wear (as you can see here). However, a design that he hasn't created, but still goes hand in hand with his signature, must be the stripe.

The stripe is almost unthinkable out of the daily street view. Everybody got some or want some. The attraction to the stripe is open for imagination and can be adapted by anyone who's wearing clothes. Although it must be said that the stripe got a certain image most of us want to pursue. The nonchalance yet sturdiness that a stripe recalls, can be fit to any type of person. Also the variety of the stripe can be mindblowing and adaptive to the situation.

HOWEVER the stripe of all stripes -the Breton stripe- has for some weird reason always a stripe (hahaha. pun.) ahead of all the other stripes. The Breton stripe has its roots down in the shores of France, Bretagne (hence the Breton in Breton stripe). Traditionally the Breton striped shirts were worn by French fishermen because of their thick double-twist cotton quality which protected them against the cold wind blows and other (bad) weather.

As said, the traditional Breton shirt is made out of double-twist cotton and has a 3/4 sleeve, a boat neck (which can be a pun on its own, get it? Fishermen and boat neck... I'm the funniest, I know) and -the real deal- has 12 navy and white stripes (allegedly each stripe represents a victory of the one and only Napoleon Bonaparte -also a French guy).

After the Act of France on the 27th of March 1858, the striped shirt became an official part of the uniform of the French navy. And as every other part of an uniform (or menswear in general, really), Coco Chanel fell in love with the stripes after meeting some sailors on vacation to the coast (where else to meet sailors, amiright?) and adapted them in 1917 into her own designs. Since then the stripe, they say, has never left the streets again. However, may the regular person say that Coco is the name behind the fame of the stripe, others might point back to our dear Pablo. (Although it must be said that Pablo and Coco (yes, I'm on first name-base with them) were friends. So who influenced who, really? OR was it all just a big clash of stripes between the two... OR plot twist -neither of them liked stripes. Seems indeed quite unlikely, but it would make the headlines...).

My mother said to me; if you are a soldier, you will become a general. If you are a monk, you will become the pope. Instead, I was a painter, and became Picasso.
Pablo Picasso

Picasso was naturally one of those lucky artists who became famous (like proper famous) during his lifetime (AND because of his art. Which nowadays is still a rarity). And as fame goes, there's a signature look to accompany it. Not only in his artwork, but also in his lifestyle. Clothes made the man, with a big frowny face. It's been told that Andy Warhol adapted the stripe into his wardrobe early in his career because of its associations with Pablo Picasso THE GREAT ARTIST. And then naturally Andy Warhol himself became a great artist, so other artists examined the life's of both and concluded that the success must be bound to the stripe and so adapted that into their wardrobe. etc etc etc. And as it goes, most of us want to be successful in life. One and one makes two! A stripe nowadays isn't just a stripe anymore (same goes with 'the shirt'). The stripe is infinitely bound to an image -a stereotype- that says France, victory, success, strong, artistic and most of all everyone. There's a stripe for all of us, really...


Documentary of which I've forgotten the name... probably from the BBC (are there any other documentaries?)

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  1. I love stripes.
    Especially in the color combi grey/black.....

    love, Marjan

    1. Grey/black stripes are indeed quite exquisite...