THE CONCEPT OF CONCEALING COLORATION AND DEFORMATION

This concept of concealing coloration and deformation spread rapidly to Britain and Germany, finally reaching the United States in 1917, the year the USA entered the war.

By Balthazar Malevolent

THE CONCEPT OF CONCEALING COLORATION AND DEFORMATION

The term camouflage derives from the French word camoufleur, meaning “to disguise.” It entered the English language during World War I, when the French first adopted it as an innovative military technique. In 1914, the portrait painter Guirand de Scévola proposed hiding shiny artillery behind paint and fabric. De Scévola was quoted as saying:

In order to totally deform objects, I employed the means Cubists used to represent them – later this permitted me, without giving reason, to hire in my [camouflage] section some painters, who, because of their very special vision, had an aptitude for denaturing any kind of form whatsoever.

WW1 experimental camouflage snipers suit.

This concept of concealing coloration and deformation spread rapidly to Britain and Germany, finally reaching the United States in 1917, the year the USA entered the war.

Camouflage served to drastically alter the look and method of modern warfare. While armies decades earlier had used monochromatic coloring on their uniforms as a form of blending camouflage, the early twentieth century marked the first time that the possibilities of abstraction through coloration and patterning were realized. The First World War inaugurated new and brutal forms of weaponry and tactics such as digging trenches and scouting from the air, thus military emphasis shifted from showing one’s strength and valor to using deception as a main tool for survival. As an author in 1917 stated, “the flash of brilliant colors, brass buttons and gold braid is no more. The passing of the spectacular soldier is due in part to the greatly increased destructiveness of our modern machines of war. To be seen is to be lost.”

Designers often apply camouflage prints to their models. Within his last season, Alexander Wang presented several variations of camo sweatpants, camouflage back panel t-shirts, and camo canvas totes.

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