The vest and its symbolic references
Apparently a very simple garment, the vest calls to mind countless symbolic meanings, almost as having multiple personalities, depending on the cultural and historical contexts.
Virtus and Voluptas: it covers yet it emphasizes.
Despite representing two such contrasting ideas, the vest manages to resolve this conflict in the awareness of how difficult the way of Virtue, and how spontaneous that of Pleasure ,are .
The inherent sensuality in the image of a vest evokes a carnal love and a material physicality.
The most exciting vest in the history of images appears in the movie “ a Streetcar Named Desire” worn by a Marlon Brando at the peak of his erotic charge.
With Brando, a new type of introspective and intense actor was born. In the movie he manages to superbly represent the integration difficulties faced by the Polish immigrants in America during the 50’s.
The vest therefore acquired somewhat negative connotations despite, to some degree, being linked to the overwhelming charm of an already acclaimed Marlon Brando.
Also known as “wife Beater” the nickname comes from the American mug shots from the 50’s: the vest appeared to be the preferred garment by the men accused of domestic violence.
The same sort of sex appeal , this time of a feminine nature, is somewhat intensified in the Italian Neo-realist movies by very sensual and feminine actresses in nightgowns.
An unforgettable memory: Anna Magnani in the movie “Bellissima” by the Italian director Luchino Visconti.
Being almost all the time undressed, the actress manages to be somewhat dishevelled and yet extremely sexy thanks also to the black lace nightgown she’s wearing rather elegantly.
This garment acts as a complement , almost as the ideal frame for a shapely body, immediately transforming the actress in an icon of femininity and sensuality.
The vest had the ability to cover and at the same time expose the most erogenous parts of the body, such as a man’s shoulders or a female décolleté.
It also sharply truncated the lower body with an extremely bourgeois cultural hypocrisy, which elected not to reveal the pubic region, certainly the most sensual part of the body.
The N&M vest manages to remove this hypocrisy by accentuating these areas thanks to its strong lines.