"Under this mask, another mask. I will never be finished removing all these faces." - Claude Cahun
While designing Chimera, Pamela Love was deeply inspired by the feminist art of Claude Cahun and Leonor Fini. Both ground-breaking Surrealists, they explored the transformational potential of the body and the bridge between the conscious and unconscious selves in their art. Claude Cahun, along with her partner Marcel Moore, experimented with visual representations of gender, queerness, and self through photography and costume. Leonor Fini, while primarily known as a painter, was also an accomplished costume designer and worked closely with the likes of Federico Fellini and Elsa Schiaparelli. Like Cahun, she explored the idea of transformation and a hybrid self through her signature sphinx paintings.
The name Chimera is meant to reference both the human and mythological chimeras. The first being the idea of multiple unique selves in the same body, which is a cornerstone of Cahun's art. The second is the mythical hybrid creature like Fini's sphinx which she used as a metaphor for the bridge between the conscious and subconscious worlds. The idea of bridging these worlds was also integral to Cahun's work. Both artists use costume and adornment in their explorations of self and identity as represented by the use of the masks in many of the pieces which are referential to ones created by Fini.
In the designs themselves we see pieces of the human form, fragmented, but powerful. A golden eye, a gleaming mouth holding a diamond, an abstract assemblage of the human face with the Vision, Voice and Portrait series. The Marcel Pendant with its sculptural crying eye, is named for the Marcel Moore, Cahun's partner and collaborator who often photographed the portraits of Cahun. The Claude Pendant, a ruby encrusted mouth, is named for Cahun and her evocative words on gender and identity and the unconscious mind. These human features morph into animal with the Chimera Earrings and Sphinx Pendant. The Leonor Earrings, named for Fini, also reference these masks she created with her divine feminine hand. The show-stopping Relic Collar brings to mind the sculptural fragments of antiquity as well as circling back to the surrealist theme of the bodily self vs the self of dreams.