W Magazine’s new editorial ‘Singular Sensation’ pays tribute to the Florentine designer Thayaht, who conceived the unisex jumpsuit as “the most innovative, futuristic garment in the history of Italian fashion”. The all-in-one TuTa, as Thayaht called it, reflected core beliefs of the Italian Futurist movement, led by Filippo T. Marinetti and his 2009 ‘Futurist Manifesto’.
Jumpsuits are a key component of today’s androgynous fashion looks, but their foundation stems from a set of values I personally find misogynistic, and ones that reflect my own ambivalence about fashion’s relationship with femaleness in general.
After all, ‘Scorn for Women’ was one of 10 key planks in the Futurist Manifesto and a core concept in fascists movements, ones that invariably seek to desensualize women’s bodies while controlling our reproductive functions.
Despite the fact that the Futurists claimed to despise and tear down all forms of tradition, their incredible misogyny represented a traditional view of the relationship between gender and technology and the role of women in society, a view which meshed quite easily with the militarism and pro-natalism of Italian Fascism in the 1930s and 40s. In her study of the relationship between Futurism and Fascism, Anne Bowler illustrates that for Marinetti “the originary moment of Futurism was critically related to the larger social and political crisis of Italy. From the beginning, Futurism found its ideal embodiment in the values of a nationalist campaign of war and destruction that was to inaugurate Italy’s rise to world power, the violent annihilation of the past, and a complete aestheticization of politics and everyday life” (Bowler 763-4). In the Futurist Manifesto, he wrote that war was “the world’s only hygiene,” (Bowler 763). This emphasis on the “aestheticization of politics” mirrors the Fascist program and allows for a consideration of the world of “The Handmaid’s Tale,” a world in which all previous forms of artistic and design expression have been streamlined into simple representation of function. Offred remarks that “they decided that even the names of shops were too much temptation for us. Now places are known by their signs alone” (Atwood 25). The all-seeing eye of the Guardians watches each citizen, and the Gileadean preoccupation with purity is a twinned obsession, emphasizing not only the purity of the body but the purity of the body politic. via
Personally, I love jumpsuits and many are quite flattering and sexy. But let us not romance away their origins in yet another example of women’s history being rewritten. The origin of the TuTa as it relates to women is purely misogynistic. ~ Anne