The Nine Circles of Menswear Hell

“Sup, you fuckin’ mortals? When life finally logs you out due to inactivity, you’ll either be whisked away to #Menswear Heaven on the smelted down, crepe sole wings of angels or flung headlong through the infernal keyhole to #Menswear Hell. #Menswear Hell abides by it’s own rules: no gods, no masters. The #menswear legacy you left behind on earf determines what special punishment you’re subjected to for all of time. Doesn’t that sound like the brie’s cheese? If you haven’t yet read Dante’s Inferno—as I’m sure all you Kindle-having pariahs have meant to—spoilers abound.” [. . .]     –Rick Morrison, Complex, January 16, 2014.

Read Morrison’s full list of the circles of Menswear Hell here.

Alexander McQueen’s 1996 Show Dante

inferno-book-alexander-mcqueen-1996“Taking place at Christ Church in Spitalfields (Isabella Blow was obsessed with the idea that it’s architect, Nicholas Hawksmoor, was a Satanist), Alexander McQueen’s 1996 show Dante was a controversial comment on religion, war and innocence that mixed crucifixes with corsets and had models sticking their tongues out in church. It was a show that McQueen himself, as well as many others, have referenced over and over again, but without the phenomenon of social media, backstage shots never made it into the public eye. In a new book Inferno: Alexander McQueen, published by Laurence King, exclusive, never-before-seen photographs front and backstage are revealed for the very first time. These will be published alongside rare interviews with Lee’s friends, peers and colleagues, and includes contributions from Suzy Menkes, Katy England, Andrew Groves (McQueen’s partner at the time), as well as the models, stylists and designers who helped create the dramatic show.” — Felicity Kinsella for i-D on vice.com

Luar’s Spring 2019 collection for the ‘Thotaissance’

“For his spring 2019 collection, Luar designer Raul Lopez was inspired by Dante Alighieri’s Divine Comedy. Or, more specifically, Purgatorio. While Lopez’s white, billowing pieces felt far more suited to the angels than Dante’s frozen, three-faced Satan, he was hoping to lift the audience up and away from 2018’s endless waves of bad news. ‘It’s like we’re living in purgatory right now,’ he said. ‘And I wanted to take us out of it.’

“If the goal was to distract people from the hellscape that is our current world, Lopez definitely succeeded. The show guests watched open-mouthed as models strolled by in ornate confections that seemed to float (as Dante put it, the designer ‘[deals] with shadows as with solid things’). They wore sculptural knife pleats and headpieces that looked like whipped cotton candy, and smeared, lived-in makeup.”    –Jocelyn Silver, Paper Magazine, September 17, 2018

Valentino Dress at the Met Gala 2016

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Rachel McAdams in a gold-beaded Valentino dress with lines from Dante’s Divine Comedy.    —US Magazine, May 2, 2016

Contributed by Donatella Stocchi-Perucchio

Dolce & Gabbana’s Alta Moda Collection, Fall 2015

Alta-Moda-Dolce-Gabbana-Homer-Dante-Shakespeare

“A movie-night selection made by Dolce’s boyfriend, a gracious Brazilian advertising executive named Guilherme Siqueira, had provided the inspiration for this season’s Alta Moda collection: the 1999 version of “A Midsummer Night’s Dream,” directed by Michael Hoffman and starring Michelle Pfeiffer, which was filmed in Italy. Dolce explained, ‘When you see this movie, you go, “This is like a dream in Portofino.”‘

“He and Gabbana had been struck by the film’s vision of an Italian countryside populated with characters drawn from ancient Greek myth: Theseus, the mythological founder of Athens, and his betrothed, Hippolyta, the Amazonian queen. The forthcoming fashion show, Dolce said, was an attempt to imagine the result of a triple collaboration: ‘Homer, the visionary; Dante, the poet of Purgatory and Paradise, with Beatrice, la bellezza; and Shakespeare, with the crazy humor.'” — Rebecca Mead, “The Couture Club,” The New Yorker

Fashionable Dante

Sancro_inferno_uomo“Lettering originale disegnato a mano dei gironi danteschi, stampato su morbidissimo cotone organico.”    –-SanCrò Firenze

Alexander McQueen’s “Dante” Collection, 1996

alexander-mcqueen-dante-collection-1996“McQueen’s theatrical ‘Dante’ collection was staged at a church in Spitalfields in 1996. The show opened with organ music filling the church that was soon drowned out by gunfire. Models walked the runway looking wearing wore crucifix masks, denim splashed with bleach and lots of lace. McQueen commented that the collection was ‘not so much about death, but the awareness that it’s there’.”    —The Concept of Fashion, December 20, 2011

Some of the pieces from this 1996 collection have been included in the “Isabella Blow: Fashion Galore!” (2014) exhibition in London. To learn more about the London show, see “In London, Fashion History Up Close.”