Where was I? Where was my head at? How have I missed the intoxicating fashion insanity that is artist Leonor Fini until now?
Born in Argentina 1907, raised in Trieste but most readily associated with Paris, Fini was the 20th century bohemian artist par excellence. She certainly never understood social, sexual or sartorial liberation to be the sole preserve of the male artist, spending many years in a menage à trois but generally avoiding adherence to people, places or modes of living. Similarly, while nominally associated with Surrealism, Fini could never be pinned down to just one style or movement.
Dorothea Tanning, a fellow bohemian (who had a similarly equivocal relationship to Surrealism), described her friend moving through Paris:
Picture her striding across the rue de Seine, an imperious flash of taffetas and perfume and feathers, seeming to illumine even the cobbles under her very high heels. A firebird among the crones and frost-bitten vendors of sausages and cheese and sorrel, all of whom would turn briefly stare after her as at some sudden, mythical apparition.
Some of the most compelling images here show their subject at an advanced age, but as you can see Fini wasn’t retiring in any sense of the word. Feisty fashion for the older lady has become a thing of late – which I can but applaud – and Fini offers a perfect example of the fearlessness, flair and flamboyance required to pull off an out-there ensemble.