Over seven decades of style will be displayed at the Philadelphia Museum of Art in Fabulous Fashion: From Dior’s New Look to Now, a major exhibition (in the Dorrance Special Exhibition Galleries, first floor, October 16, 2018 – March 3, 2019) highlighting creativity and glamour. The haute couture and ready-to-wear garments and accessories on view range in date from 1947 – the year of the introduction of Christian Dior’s revolutionary “New Look” – to recent ensembles by audacious designer Bernhard Willhelm. Featuring some of the most significant and visually compelling works from the Museum’s renowned collection of costumes and textiles, Fabulous Fashion presents many new acquisitions and other outstanding works, exhibited rarely if ever before.
Timothy Rub, The George D. Widener Director and Chief Executive Officer, said: “Few museums have such extraordinary range and depth in their collection of costumes and textiles as the Philadelphia Museum of Art. As we continue to work on our Facilities Master Plan, which will result in much more gallery space to display the richness of our holdings in this field, Fabulous Fashion will serve as a reminder of the strength of our collection and all that we have to offer to those who value the extraordinary history of costumes and textiles as much as we do.”
Since its founding, as a result of Philadelphia’s 1876 Centennial Exhibition, the Philadelphia Museum of Art’s Costume and Textile Collection has become one of the largest and most comprehensive in the world. Numbering some 30,000 objects, the collection is remarkable in depth and breadth, encompassing art of great quality from diverse eras and around the globe. Textiles holdings range from Middle Eastern and Asian archeological examples to American quilts and samplers to fiber art, while the extensive collection of garments and accessories includes particular strengths in late-nineteenth-century French couture and the iconic designs of famed twentieth-century designer Elsa Schiaparelli, as well as a growing collection of contemporary menswear.
The 1956 wedding dress worn by Princess Grace of Monaco, the former Grace Kelly of Philadelphia, is another highlight (currently not on view). Since costume and textile objects can only be displayed for short periods of time due to light sensitivity and other conservation concerns, the Museum showcases diverse aspects of its encyclopedic collection through special exhibitions and rotating displays.
Fabulous Fashion includes such iconic works as Adrian’s 1947 velvet “winged victory” gown, an understated black and white 1972 Chanel suit, and Geoffrey Beene’s 1994 silver lamé “Mercury” dress. Radical design is exemplified by Paco Rabanne’s dress made of plastic discs linked by metal rings (from his 1966 collection entitled “Twelve Unwearable Dresses in Contemporary Materials”) and a punk-inspired ensemble by Zandra Rhodes from her 1977-78 “Conceptual Chic” collection.
Focusing on fashion as an art form, the exhibition is arranged thematically to explore designers’ creative use of color and pattern, shape and volume, draping, metallics, bridal traditions and innovations, and exquisite embellishments. Works will be grouped together to offer striking visual comparisons and demonstrate the relentlessly creative spirit of fashion.
A pair of ensembles from fifty years apart opens the exhibition, each embodying fashion-forward dressing for its time. Dior’s two-piece pale pink satin day dress from1948, with a nipped-in waist and full skirt that epitomizes the ultra-feminine “New Look,” contrasts with a flirtatious hot pink fur-collared wool suit designed in 1998 by John Galliano for the House of Dior. Continue reading