John Paul Gaultier was among the createurs who helped make French fashion so exciting in the 1980s. The way he played with conventions of sex and gender, in particular, has had a profound influence on fashion. For example, rather than using coresetry to reinforce conventional ideals of beauty, Gaultier has always emphasized that many body types, genders and ages can be attractive. This Orange Shirred Velvet Corset Dress, featuring Gaultier’s signature cone bra top (made famous by Madonna) is from his 1984 Fall collection.
Kathe Burkhart is an artist and writer who uses images and text to, in her words, “articulate a radical female subject.” She considers this confrontational, sensual work, entitled Fuck You: From The Liz Taylor Series (After Bert Stern) (1984), to be the first fully realized canvas in this series, which has been ongoing since 1982. The large-scale, richly saturated paintings combine appropriated portraits of actress Elizabeth Taylor (here, in a shot of her as Cleopatra taken by Bert Stern for Vogue magazine in 1962) with profane language, shattering both female stereotypes and conventions of representation. Taylor was a controversial feminist figure throughout her career, conveying equal parts bravura, sexual power, and vulnerability. Burkhart — collapsing the genres of portraiture and self-portraiture — treated the actress as a figure for her own life in the diary-like narrative series.
This ensemble by Thierry Mugler, entitled Madonna, served as the finale to his tenth-anniversary collection, which was staged at Le Zenith, and indoor in Paris. The model Pat Cleveland wore it as she was lowered from the ceiling of the auditorium in a cloud of dry ice, as if descending from heaven.
Its placement this area — a museum passage archway — emphasizes links to ascension, and particularly the dogma of the Assumption of Mary, which asserts that her body and soul were assumed into heaven’s glory as her life’s end.
The color of the dress refers to another dogma: the Immaculate Conception, or the belief that the Virgin Mary was born free from the stain of original sin. In artistic representations, (especially after 1854, when Pope Pius IX proclaimed the dogma), she often wears a white tunic with a blue mantle.
Photographed as Part of the Exhibit, Heavenly Bodies: Fashion and the Catholic Imagination, On View Through October 8th, 2018 at the Metropolitan Museum of Art (at both the Fifth Avenue and Cloisters Locations) in NYC.
On this Date in 1984: The Smiths released their self-titled debut album. The album – which features a cropped shot of actor Joe Dallesandro on its cover – reached as high as Number 2 on the UK album charts, where it stayed for 33 weeks. This record is amazing and it’s still one of my favorite albums of all time. The Smiths rule.