SEDUCTION: The very word conjures up excitement and intrigue, naughty behavior and possible exotica, sensual couplings and secret meetings. It is anything but proper, arranged behavior, but it is also rarely vulgar or blatant. Seductions aren’t expected to take place in pizza parlors, but in elegant restaurants. Seductions take place quietly, often soundlessly, the woman as much in command as the man. Seductions are the things great romantic novels are often based on. They are the fantasies of a young girl’s dreams.
The museum of the Fashion Institute of Technology in Manhattan is presently celebrating “Seduction,” and the role clothes play in temptation and enticement. The clothes cross over a broad spectrum of styles, many not so sexy by modern terms, but pretty racy in their times. The Show runs through June of 2009, and includes some fascinating bits of trivia, as well as fashion pieces.
Danger and Seduction
For example, a 1958 cocktail dress designed by Cristobal Balenciaga features a black peek-a-boo back design plus a fuchsia bow that once belonged to Ann Woodward. She, you may remember, was the lady who shot and killed her banking heir husband, William Woodward, Jr., saying she thought he was a prowler. The Museum display doesn’t say how much she inherited. The Woodward piece, though, adds an element of danger to the seductive play, so often darkly alluring.
THE SHOW CURATOR, Colleen Hill, points out that “The proximity of clothing to the body is inherently sensual, conveyed through the strategic interplay of exposure and concealment.” A better example can be found in jewelry, which not only touches skin, but often flashes out from skin a wordless but powerful come-hither message. When it comes to seduction, jewelry has it way over clothing, as anybody knows.
Consider Elizabeth Taylor, who has reigned as Queen of Seduction for decades now. Still, even at her present age, this gloriously endowed creature succeeds in seducing most men who look at her. She has an indefinable seductive mystique.
– – Ahhh, but as time takes its toll, and as clothing loses its allure to age and avoirdupois, jewelry rushes in to pick up the excitement. Jewelry shimmers on its own, adding glamour without making demands. It reflects so many qualities of seduction: movement, beauty, magnetism, intensity, things desired, things even out-of-reach.
- YOU CAN WEAVE A WEB OF SEDUCTION, TOO: Necklaces that use pendants that drop down seductively on the bosom are particularly dramatic and can be quiet or bold, as you choose. Black glass jewelry can be sizzling. Consider a necklace of Murano-style glass beads with shiny black heart pendant. Or, try for innocent seduction with what is otherwise traditional wedding jewelry (nobody says it has to be for that day only). A simple strand of white faux pearls with sparkling floral motif drop and dangling pear-shaped pearl commands and directs attention…but in oh, such an understated way!
The FIT MUSEUM designs on display date back to 1755 and a dress with open-front bodice which surely would capture a high score on any modesty register. Other designs are less conservative, such as a 2004 lambskin and black silk evening dress and a hard sex rather than seductive inclusion, a Playboy bunny suit sized 32- and 34-D and meant to be worn at the Playboy Mansion only.
Memories of Malmaison
“Seduction” may have reigned supreme in past decades, but it is no less important today, even in an era of in-your-face sexuality. And clothes still play a critical seduction role. Take much of designer Donatella Versace’s clothes, for example, so often nearly bodice-naked, but beautifully crafted, exquisitely revealing, reminiscent of yesteryear’s Malmaison and a decidedly decadent French court. Then, there are long slits up the sides of skirts, mini-mini skirts, dresses with strategically placed netting, and more, so much more. What really great design doesn’t have a seductive quality?
- YOU CAN ADD TO THE SEDUCTION: Bracelets can be wildly seductive, bringing attention to the arms and hands just as traditional Hawaiian dancing does. What works? A heart bracelet dangling off an elongated link chain. Or, multiple link bracelets with hearts. Or, a cuff bracelet featuring two distinct interwoven chains and creating just vague tracings of sound and movement. And, don’t forget the sensual quality of the ankle, either. Try enhancing it with an ankle bracelet of faceted jet or iridescent Swarovski crystals dripping off an anklet of fine beaded chain. Whew!
If you choose to create a display for seductive jewelry, think about the word and its expressions, worldwide, throughout time. Middle Eastern bellydancers seduce with movement. Composers seduce with music. An entire world industry of eye makeup exists for the sole purpose of helping women seduce with their eyes, with a look, with wordless intensity. And fashion…it is perhaps, the master of seductive arts, using form, and color, and line, and mood.
Like a flower. Or, a spider…