Welcome to the social design: loose lessons from the stylized representation of the social in cinema and print. A blog very often about the interior design, fashion, social manners, and music created for and reflected in vintage cinema and print. Especially from the Sixties and Seventies, especially Italian, and especially from swingin' party scenes. We're awfully big on disco hippies and the OpArt accent here. Guaranteed, of course, to wander off on the occasional tangent into (maybe?) related subject matter, with plenty of tongue-in-cheek commentary for your consideration along the way. Comments are welcome, so please consider yourself invited...

Tuesday, July 12, 2011




There's a certain charm to the dated vision of the future.  A quaint naiveté one doesn't find in the once-conjectured reality we currently occupy nor recognizable (by ourselves,  not yet) in the visions of tomorrow and the life futuristic we as a culture are producing.  Frankly it's easier to look back on the past and guffaw.  Well, we saw a bit of this charm in the previous post -  a staging of André Courrèges' spring '68 fashions - and so here again I'm posting another little issue from the same year: a Braniff Airlines commercial prophetizing the space age thrill of air travel ... circa 1975. Pretty ambitious for seven years, one has to admit.

Clearly in the scheme of things, 1975 was going to be a great year for hoods and streamlined fashion helmets!  Though I have to ask, what's the story with that lady in the crinkled metallic number scratching her ass?  Guess the future was going to be itchy.  And with all those rather jerky, hard-finished means of conveyance to which the modern traveler is subjected, I would say it's kind of whiplash-y, too...


Thursday, July 7, 2011



Here's another "summer white" for your consideration.  Some great German television footage of André Courrèges' 1968 collection, paired with a little moog music. It's the product of a terrific woman in Germany who posts under the name of cosmocorps2000 on YouTube. She's worth loooking up: she's got scads of great vintage fashion videos and lovingly pairs each one with some equally groovy "space age" tunes.  Says cosmocorps2000's bio: (I) have an affinity for anything futuristic (Design, Furniture, Architecture, Music...) especially from the 1960s and 1970s, the heyday of futuristic design and lifestyle. Well, I have an affinity for you, cosmocorps2000, I have an affinity for you!

I do like this video quite a bit. I'm a sucker for an impractical, all white interior. I'm mad about quaint visions of yesterday's tomorrow.  The totalizing, white interior - that's optimism. See, even dirt has been left behind in mankind's great ascension.  Plus there's a place for everything, as evidenced by the series of closets from which the models enter and exit. It's man's mastery over the elements, or at least clutter.  And it's optimism that says tomorrow's woman can sport a bubble-hooded white space poncho and still have occasion for girlish pigtails, scalloped hems, and sweet white gloves...

Friday, July 1, 2011




Now here's a clip that really takes us back to the heart of the social design: disco hippies. (Yes!) This film, 1968's Le Pacha, really does as much so very literally it even features a highly improbable nightclub titled "Les Hippies"...

Part of this vignette anyway is fabulous.  And another part, well, a piece of shit.  I haven't actually seen the entire film.  Apparently from what I can detect it was never released in an English dub and my command of French doesn't carry me so very far beyond dining, shopping, and insulting.  Maybe there's something sub-titled out there, though it probably doesn't matter since few of these films are even being considered for their plot.

Plot (or lack of) excused, there's some great vintage style here.  Unfortunately it's a bit polluted, as clearly the "scene" has been rendered to serve as a fairly foolish counterpoint to the old detective.  Note how almost every guy on the dance floor is basically an effeminate, spaced-out gypsy with a pashmina. (And though I rather like that in a club, it's as its own end, and here it is decidedly not.)  A sort of dancing floral arrangement as Monsieur L'Inspecteur makes his way through the psychedelic clubscape.  Pity since this blog is not about old detectives.

Well, if you can overlook the obvious bias, there still much to love.  The kaleidoscopic intro with the strobe flash on the dancing girl scantily clad in what appears to be Mylar fringe: hello, terrific!  A great segue into the dancers ornamenting a club which otherwise seems to be populated with little more than highly-visual ornaments.  Of course that bar maid could not look more out of place if they had cast Doris Day in the role, and frankly it looks like they tried and settle for second best (or, as the case may be, worst).  Hilarious! In that pink suit with the jeweled necktie.  Oh dear.  I am definitely not buying it!

Well, speaking of dancing floral arrangements.  We actually encounter one, literally, by which I mean the creature in the blue peek-a-boo caftan with a head of posies.  Shades of the notorious Atlanta drag queen Octavia L'Ampshade, circa 1996, really.  In the film, too silly to be true, of course.  Clearly the stylists went a little overboard.  But otherwise some great fashions and body paint.  Really what I like best in this scene is the controlled use of color and metallics against a black background.  It's a rich effect.

The music is Serge Gainsbourg's Psychasténie.  Of course we've considered this terrific sort of disco-raga mish-mash before... 

Gainsbourg, from Le Pacha (1968)

and again from Manon 70 (1968)

1968 was a great year for electric bass and sitar, which Gainsbourg also married (with Michel Colombier) for the Catherine Deneuve vehicle Manon 70.  Well, it really does set a tone, you cannot deny.

Gainsbourg actually appears in Le Pacha.  Specifically performing the song Requiem pour un con, or Requiem for a Jerk. Very groovy percussion, I think you will agree.  A rough translation of the lyrics follows.  Says one viewer on YouTube: "Gainsbourg à l'apogée de sa coolitude..." 

Listen to the organs, they are playing for you
This tune is dreadful
I hope you like it, good enough, isn't it?
It's the Requiem for a Jerk
I composed it specially for you
In memory of you, scoundrel
On your pale face, on the prisons' walls
I'll inscribe myself: "silly jerk"