Tuesday, May 28, 2013

Dressing Vorticist (Violet Hunt)

Extract from The Flurried Years - Violet Hunt's account
of her life between 1908 and 1914.

A languid airless summer, rife with Law and Cubism, 
spent at Selsey with Princess Maleine as sole guest 
and play-secretary. Her husband flitted backwards
and forwards in his car, now recalling her, now 
giving her a new leave of absence. Joseph Leopold*,
playing golf,eating little contraband crabs, writing 
poems, and helping me with my novel, and taking 
a car into Chichester on Sundays to attend Mass 
in his own church, contrived to wile the summer 
away. He wrote Impressionist ; she painted 

Futurist; in dress, we two women went a step 
farther and dressed Vorticist, which was newer than 
Futurism, than Cubism, than Impressionism, old- 
fashioned almost by now, but which Joseph Leopold 
was still practising in his cunning vers libres.  

The very clothes we rejoiced to wear made us feel like 
it ; they coarsened us, I think. Non-representational 
art makes for hardness, enjoins the cynicism that likes 
to look upon the crudenesses, the necessaries of life 
merely — the red of beef, the blue of blouses, the shine 
of steel knives in a butcher's shop. Better, said Wynd- 
ham Lewis, than a dying stag or a virgin in Greek dress 
picking daisies. But this kind of art died in the war, 
being relegated chiefly to the camouflaging of ships. A 
faint echo of it is to be seen in modern jazz. 

My friend was very beautiful, with a queer, large, 
tortured mouth that said the wittiest things, eyes that 
tore your soul out of your body for pity and yet danced. 
She had no physique, as doctors would say ; no health, 
as women would say ; and — as no woman would ever 
admit except me — charm enough to damn a regiment. 
I used to call her the Leaning Tower, or Princess Maleine, 
that heroine of Maeterlinck who, with her maid, was 
prisoned in a tower for ten years and dug herself out 
with her nails. She ought not to have dressed in butcher 
blue with red blood spots on it. She was much more 
like one of those delicate, anaemic, mediaeval ladies whose 
portraits are traced on old tapestries, their small waists 
seeming to be set between the enormous wings of the 
hennin** and the heavy rolls of their trains that spread 
all round their feet. The modern blouse and skirt of 
Maleine, born out of her century, always appeared to 
be falling off her, her crown of heavy hair toppling, her 
deep brown eyes protesting against Fate and the absurd 
limitations of behaviour applied to supermen and under- 
women. She was no real suffragette, though she had 
collected with me and rattled a box at stations. Nothing 
but her eyes protested.

* Ford Madox Ford

**The hennin was a headdress in the shape of a cone or steeple, or truncated cone worn in the late Middle Ages by European women of the nobility.


  1. Where can I buy Vorticist clothes?

  2. You make your own out of cutlery and curtains, held together with barbed wire.