Ambivalent, Aware and Advocating, Ioana Ciolacu S/S '18
It’s rumored that more women than men applied to attend the Bauhaus upon its opening in 1919. A burgeoning design student may find this information impactful, even empowering. Whether one chooses to recognize this rumor as a moment of female-empowerment, or a sad act of desperation depends solely on perspective. Often glossed over in decadent coffee-table books is that women were rarely admitted to institutions of formal education in the early 20th century, and although the Bauhaus opened its doors to both men and women, the truth is that once accepted, women were slyly nudged into the so-called feminine departments of weaving and painting.
As those that are oppressed and marginalized so often do, the women of the Bauhaus made best of a mediocre situation and took pride in their (granted) inch – while making no inquiries into a mile. Fairly recently, the impact and influence of these women has arrived at the forefront of design scholarship – scholarship that would almost be inconceivable without the documented photos of Bauhaus life by Lucia Moholy-Nagy. For academics, the women of the Bauhaus are becoming topics of interest and intimate studies and for designers, an inspiration – and a muse.
Reinterpreting both the concept of a muse and the essence of the Bauhaus women, Ioana Ciolacu’s S/S 2018 collection presents stark contrasts and introspective silhouettes. Opting for opposing forces of red, black and sheer nudes rather than complimentary palettes and playful shades, Ciolacu presents one of her most exposed collections to date. There are several nods to the Bauhaus with Bauhaus typography on the scarves, in corresponding shades of red and black, as the most explicit. Wide-cut pants, carefully constructed tops and a mobilized fluidity exhibit a savvy, disciplined approach to materials – in a similar manner to Gunta Stölzl with her patterns in the weaving workshop and Marianne Brandt with her meticulous handling of metals.
The combined collection represents a woman that is acutely ambivalent to her surroundings, yet hyper-aware of the male gaze – neither of which she cares to contend with. It should be known that Ciolacu has no intention of simply representing the Bauhaus women through individual pieces, or even an entire collection – the intent is to advocate on behalf of these forgotten women, by demystifying their legacy and reinterpreting it for their sisters and heiresses – the women of today, us.