The notes that accompanied "21 Shades of Gold", Rafael Cennamo's Fall 2013 Couture Collection, which he presented last week for Fashion Week 2013, claim "inspiration by the passage of time with the ornate and golden aura of The Hall of Mirrors." "The mixture of textures and intricate embroideries highlight the artistic style where glamour meets regal design by modern baroque elements and decor". Indeed, invoking that iconic ballroom that is the highlight of the Palace of Versailles, the Sun King's monument to his reign, one of the longest in French and European history, is apt in this case. Louis XIV, also known as Louis the Great, expanded the hunting lodge, originally built in 1624, into the symbol of absolute monarchy of the Ancien Regime that it is today. Versailles became the touchstone of the French Revolution, its opulent parties and displays of supreme decadence fuel for the mob rage that led to the execution of its royal occupants. Before the family was forced to flee its luxurious environs for Paris in 1789, it was the location for some of the most lavish extravaganzas ever recorded.
Cennamo's Fall 2013 presentation featured gowns and dresses that would be well suited to a soiree in that famed hall. The Hall of Mirrors is the central gallery of The Palace of Versailles, the main feature of which is seventeen mirror clad arches that reflect the seventeen arcaded windows that overlook the gardens. Each arch contains twenty-one mirrors, with a total complement of 357 used in the decoration of the galerie des glaces. Seventeen majestic chandeliers hang in the hall, through which Louis XIV walked every day from his private apartment to the chapel. The Hall of Mirrors is a testimony to an era, a magical place that inspires artists of every discipline, as evidenced by Cennamo's collection. The hall has been the location for momentous historical events, from the extravagant Siamese Embassy of 1686, to the signing of the Treaty of Versailles in 1919 that ended World War 1. Cennamo's Fall 2013 Couture Collection is a fitting homage to such a stately and fantastic construction.
Cennamo's collection was au courant with the addition of the unique headwear design of Amir Baradaran. The imaginative headpieces, featuring clocklike gears and drafting implements, are particular to the growing Steampunk culture, a movement characterized by art, fashion, music and literature that combines the elements of Victorian history with the futuristic ideas of Science Fiction and Fantasy. H.G Wells and Jules Verne are the patron saints of the movement, with books like Verne's "20,000 Leagues Beneath the Sea" being the inspiration for much of the fashion and gear of the movement's aficionados. Steampunk design emphasizes a balance between form and function and blurs the line between tool and decoration. Materials such as polished brass, iron, wood, and leather are combined with design elements and craftsmanship consistent with the Victorian era, rejecting the aesthetic of industrial design.
Rafael Cennamo is a young designer with a perfect combination of imagination and skill, one whose work continues to amaze and delight an audience that is a combination of sophisticated fashionista and infatuated layperson. With each presentation, the anticipation grows for the next astonishment he has in store for the fashion world.