The Mystico-Nuclear Jewels of Dali

Dali was obsessed with the Atom Bomb. When it hit Hiroshima, he suddenly had a new way of looking at the world. His paradigm had changed. This universe was now an energetic one, composed of things he couldn’t see with the naked eye but that had incredible power to destroy or create. Protons and electrons have form and structure, he thought-but how do you depict them? This was what he would set out to do for decades to come-to visually represent the elements of quantum physics and the unseen forces of the universe. This hybrid of atomic-age thinking and his already-established religious traditions was what he would come to call, “nuclear mysticism.”

He entered artistic mediums that went beyond painting but one collection-his little-known line of jewelry-was a singular interpretation of his new approach to creating. He considered its role as part of a larger experiment in what he often referred to as his “mystical manifesto,” or his general artistic mission to show the spirituality of all substance. “My art encompasses physics, mathematics, architecture, nuclear science – the psycho-nuclear, the mystico-nuclear – and jewelry – not paint alone,” he wrote. 

The language of Dali mysticism is esoteric but his jewels are such a tangible and impactful expression of the divine. Gemstones are an innate representation of energy and exquisite manifestation of sacred geometry-they are the perfect medium for him represent the quantum world. 

Tree of Life
Ruby Lips

He selected the stones with intention: rubies represented energy, sapphires tranquility and lapis and lazuli meant the subconscious mind. Some pieces were mechanical, like a diamond-encrusted flower whose petals opened and closed or a ruby brooch in the shape of a steadily pulsing heart. Common motifs through the collection are Greek mythology and Catholic iconography. 

The Gold Cube Cross
Pax Vobiscum
Tristan and Isolde

Each piece invites you to play and delight in his hallucinatory world and consider the potential for the mystical behind the everyday.

Psychic Prints: The Mandala

My Hermés Tohu Bohu scarf. It’s one of my favorite scarves, not just for its beautiful design but for the meaning behind it.  

“Tohu Bohu” is Hebrew for disorder; primordial chaos; the state of the world before God created light.

The design is based on the mandala, a symbolic structure of the universe. The concentric geometric diagram of the mandala attempts to contain the formlessness of the universe.  

There are three levels to the mandala: The outer stands for the human environment; the inner is those who live in this environment, or humans; and the alternate level is the teachings of the universe.

As a ritual object, its hypnotic nature can induce a mental state that supports spiritual evolution. Or more intentionally, it may serve as an instructional tool in which man moves gradually to the innermost zone, an act analogous to the the quest for the center in a labyrinth.

As mandalas may be identified with all figures composed of various elements enclosed in a square, such as the labyrinth, the horoscope, or the clock, it is not a surprise that Hermés associates its Zodiac scarf with Tohu Bohu, which happens to be another one of my favorite scarves in my collection:


Do Clothes Have Juju?


Barbara Hulanicki, founder of Biba, doesn’t wear vintage. She says she believes it can be haunted by previous owners. This blows my mind because when I think of Biba, I think of amazing vintage pieces from bygone fashion eras, but Barbara herself doesn’t wear her old Biba because it could have bad juju.

I work in a fashion library for a certain American designer-I won’t name names but he’s been designing for 50 years now. Half a lifetime’s worth of designs is kept in my archive, as well as 200 year old vintage. Most of the pieces have been worn by those no longer with us.

We have parameter security so that we are notified if anyone tries walking out with items that haven’t been checked out. A funny thing is, there are reports at night of clothes making it past security. And the pieces that seem to “haunt” the library halls the most are contributed by the same person-a late relative of the designer.

Can clothes be “haunted?”

One of my coworkers, a Filipina, says her grandmother’s generation holds the belief that vintage can indeed be spooked and to stay away from a dead man’s clothes. I’ve heard that the Jewish tradition refers to it as “mashugana.” Bad vibes. One girlfriend can’t bring herself to wear her grandmother’s engagement ring for fear that she might inherit the marital problems of her grandparents.

Similarly, I have friends who swear they feel an energy in their clothes, whether the previous owner is alive or dead, happy or unhappy. One friend says it’s why she’s so drawn to “party girl” attire-she loves clothes for clubbing-think Katharine Hamnett crop tops and DKNY denim-anything that would’ve given the wearer a good time. She’s also a divorcee and is recently eschewing what she calls her “mourning attire,” or what she wore when she was married. Black, Japanese avant garde pieces you may cloister yourself in. I think she is sensing her own former-self vibes?? One vest she had to get rid of-her ex-husband’s favorite piece on her-because she had too many bad times in it. She sold it in to a second-hand store, only to rediscover it months later among the very same racks.

I don’t know if ghosts exist, or there’s such thing as a “haunting.” But I do believe in “juju.” Energy. Vibratory echos of long-lost matter. And so many things can be a vessel for these psychic remnants-a house, library, a well  in a COS store in Soho…so why not something that was close to the wearer, like a piece of clothing? Clothes may contain pieces of our selves, our experiences, and maybe even those of our dearly departed. And while that point might be spooky, it’s mostly something we should just be aware of. Ultimately, your sixth sense will tell you how to feel. And if it feels good, wear it.







Dior X Motherpeace Tarot

I realize this blog is becoming Dior-centric but I am totally bewitched by all the magic Maria Grazia Chiuri and Co are brewing up these days. For Resort 2018, Chiuri referenced the Motherpeace tarot, a feminist, Goddess-based deck dreamed up and drawn by artists Karen Vogel and Vicki Noble in the 1970s. A serendipitous side note is that when Chiuri reached out to Noble for permission to use her images, Noble realized she had recently borrowed from Dior’s “We Should All Be Feminists” tee in a collage. “Magic stuff was going on in the background,” Noble wrote of the new collaboration.

Death, the Five of Swords and the Priestess of Wands are to name a few of goddess cards conjured in the collection.