The La Sylphide Gown, designed by Charles James, was worn by Miss Esme O’Brien when she came out as a New York debutante in 1937 (a sylph is a lovely, slim young woman or girl).
Over the course of a seven-decade career in design, Pierre Cardin has released collections that have rocketed so far into the future they were once emblematic of the Space Age. For an example of Cardin’s influence in popular culture, look no further than the 1960s cartoon The Jetsons, where Jane Jetson’s styles look as though they could have been lifted from the designer’s showroom.
But perhaps it is the Jetson’s teenage daughter Judy who would have been more inclined to fancy this vibrant and fun two-piece red suit consisting of a Bandeau Top and Miniskirt made of vinyl and plastic. The top’s circular breast rings remind me very fondly of costumes worn by Jane Fonda in the 1968 film Barbarella.
This Out-Of-This World Design was Photographed in the Brooklyn Museum as Part of the 2019 – 2020 Exhibit, Pierre Cardin: Future Fashion.
Technically, a parabola is a symmetrically mirrored U-shape. Pierre Cardin began working with the parabola in the 1950s, particularly in the 1957 Lasso collection. With the introduction of stretch fabrics and hoops in the 1960s, those sweeping, graceful parabolic drapes became amplified, evolving into ellipses and cones.
Some of Cardin’s “Parabolic” fashions collapse flat, are easily packed, and emerge as before — like his earlier Cardine dresses, which could be twisted, rolled and stowed effortlessly into luggage. Developed alongside Cardin’s investigations into furniture sculpture, the big, sculptural shapes of the Parabolic dresses were likewise designed to be seen in 360 degrees. And since they were made of stretch fabric, they had a bounce reminiscent of his “Kinetic” dresses from 1972.
Referencing his earlier “Lasso” or “Eye of the Needle” designs done in wool and mohair, in 1990s’ Parabolic Evening Gown, Cardin creates the shape as a pink and green silk parabola.
Photographed in The Brooklyn Museum.
At the end of the 1920s, the prior emphasis on lavish surface embellishment transferred to printed textiles, which were fashioned into a variety of romantic permutations. The elegant ombre-dyed silk chiffon of this evening dress was likely created for Gabrielle Chanel at her own Tissus Chanel factory in Asnières-sur-Seine, France. The delicate manipulation of the textile in this Floral Appliquéd Evening Dress (spring/summer 1935) is evidence of the superior capabilities of the Chanel couture workrooms
The gown’s bias-cut fabric drapes and clings to the figure, gathering into delicately ruched straps at the shoulders and swelling into soft folds around the hem. Individual picot-edged florets are backed with net to create volume and strategically appliquéd throughout the garment to further enhance the printed motifs, resulting in tactile bouquets that gently flutter when the wearer moves.
Photographed as part of the exhibit In Pursuit of Fashion: The Sandy Schreier Collection, on view through May 17th, 2020 at The Metropolitan Museum of Art in NYC.
Christian Dior’s “New Look” was central to the postwar revival of the Paris couture system. In addition to selling individual couture dresses to private clients, Dior also sold licensed copies, like this one of his Columbine dress, which was produced in the US for American department stores. The number of such high-end reproductions was limited, but there were also mass-produced garments that catered to the desire for at least “a copy of a copy of a Dior.”
The Dress Pictured Here is a Licensed Copy of Dior’s Columbine Dress by I. Magnin and Lord & Taylor circa 1947. Photographed as Part of the Exhibit, Paris, Capital of Fashion at the Museum at FIT in Manhattan.
The Nazi occupation of Paris lasted from June 14, 1940 to August 25, 1944. The Nazi authorities initially planned to move the entire Paris fashion industry to the German Reich. Lucian Lelong, then head of the Chambre Syndicale, convinced them that the haute couture could only exist, “in Paris or . . . not at all.” Among those who could legally purchase Paris couture during the Occupation were some 20,000 French women (who had special couture ration cards) about 200 Germans, and citizens of neutral countries, such as Spain and Switzerland.
Jeanne-Marie Lanvin was a French haute couture fashion designer, who founded the Lanvin fashion house and the beauty and perfume company Lanvin Parfums. She designed this gray, black and gold Brocade Evening Coat in 1943.
Photographed as Part of The Exhibit, Paris, Capital of Fashion, On View at The Museum at FIT in Manhattan Through January 4th, 2020.
For designer Jun Takahashi’s Undercover 2015 spring/summer ready-to-wear collection, he presented a series of dresses in textiles printed with phantasmagoric iconography from Hieronymus Bosch’s triptych The Garden of Earthly Delights, collaged in a manner that heightens the painting’s proto-Surrealism.
Arguably Bosch’s most complex and enigmatic creation, the triptych’s overall theme is the fate of humanity — more specifically, the concept of sin, which starts in the Garden of Eden on the left panel and ends in Hell, on the right.
The collection also features matching footwear in the Bosch textile, and jewelry/accessories inspired by flowers in the background of the famous painting.
Wedge Shoes, Detail
Photographed at the Cloisters 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.