Series: Les Grand Robes Royales height: 3 m / 9 ft Installation view, Basilica of St. Denis, 2016. Both the short, notched overcoat and the dress are made of fabric from Chad, in navy blue and burgundy. The frieze along on the bottom of the dress is inspired by Lebanese embroidery. Collaboration: Sandra ConsaniJeanne I de France was beautiful, seductive, acquisitive, renowned for her elegant little feet. Her dress has a sensual design feature common to most of the robes in the series: the chancreure, a “window” cut into the dress to reveal the hip area on each side, which in that time was regarded as particularly sexually appealing. This detail, like most in Lamyne M’s robes, is faithfully translated from the marble effigies of the queens in the Basilica of Saint-Denis. Such redundant or now mystifying details in the robes remind us of the mutability of fashion, the relativity of our values, desires, and projections, and how subject all of these are to change. “Change” is the sign of the immigrant or refugee: one who chooses to undertake the great changes of leaving “home” and starting again in a new home, such as in Saint-Denis, France.
The red in Jeanne de France’s costume symbolizes her conquering power; the blue represents her courage; the elaborate gold embroidery reflects the wealth she desired and acquired abroad.
While the fabrics in this costume might look as if they were sourced in and around Saint-Denis, in fact Lamyne M. selected the materials for this dress while in Chad, videoconferencing with the group of ten women he collaborated with on the creation of Jeanne I de France’s costume. During construction of the costume, they paid particular attention to the appliqué of the gold embroidery details. They cut and joined motifs that represent olives and dates associated with all of the Middle East, the leaves of the cedar of Lebanon, famous since Phoenician times, and the radiant “Sun of Damascus” symbol, which presents an element of hope and a suggestion of the vital and renewing power of the sun at a time when Syria is suffering—and dispersing refugees to Saint-Denis and many other places.