|Palliative Prototypes or Therapeutic Functionality? Examining C.P. Company’s Urban Protection Collection
Towards the end of the 1990s, a reoccurring theme within contemporary fashion was of the body in trauma, decaying, degraded or ill at ease. Simultaneously, as anxiety over the physical and psychological threats of ecological, environmental, and digital catastrophe intensified, a potential panacea was being proposed by the augmentation of technology within hybrid garments to alleviate these harms.
This paper presents a case study of this pivotal moment within menswear design that saw the proposition of a range of garments that performed as synthesises, acting as multifunctional protective barriers between the wearer and a hostile urban environment.
In 1997 Moreno Ferrari, the newly appointed designer at Italian brand C.P. Company asked himself what threats and dangers the modern man faced, and how could he construct garments to make the wearer’s daily life better. In response, he developed the Urban Protection range that incorporated complex, mostly hidden technology into each garment. The specific restorative or enhanced functionality contained within these clothes acknowledged the complexities of the environmental issues that man had both created and now had to navigate for survival. A jacket detects pollutants in the air and sends alerts via an LED screen; another has an integral personal safety device, emitting a loud piercing scream; a parka has a built-in anti-smog filtration mask; a trench coat is enhanced with hidden electronics to release soothing music into the garment. While these vestments bore modern iterations of digital functionality, the accompanying textual content alludes to primaeval notions of protection, referencing the womb, inner silence, the soul, and the creation of a shell for consciousness.
Both in its materiality and its psychological performance, the Urban Protection range was prescient in foreseeing the desire for cloth-based objects that transcend superficial notions of fashionability and instead focus on the therapeutic functionality inherent within its design.
|Curative Things: Medicine/Fashion/Art
|Leeds Arts University
|12 Feb 2021
File Access Level
Open (open metadata and files)