Chloe is a French fashion house founded in 1952 by the Jewish Egyptian immigrant Gaby Aghion, who had a vision to offer luxury ready-to-wear. Karl Lagerfeld began designing for Chloe in 1966, and his creations from the 1970s were extremely influential.
Lagerfeld returned as creative director of Chloe in 1992, and was followed in due course by Stella McCartney, Phoebe Philo, and Natacha Ramsey-Levi.
This Black and Gold embroidered Tulle and Silk Chiffon Evening Ensemble was part of Karl Lagerfeld for Chloe’s Fall/Winter 1993 – 1994 Collection. Photographed as part of the exhibit, Paris: Capital of Fashion at the Museum art FIT in Manhattan.
“When I think about pinafores and jumpers and compromised purity, it’s actually quite punk. Go further back and it’s all about mod and Twiggy and dolly birds and thousands of school girls like me pouring over magazines, reading articles from the front lines of pop culture.”
Throughout her career, Anna Sui has summoned the youthful spirit of the school girl but was an edge, embracing the complexity of teen-hood. For the fall 1994 Schoolgirl collection, Sui focused on Yves Saint Laurent‘s most iconic designs, which she reinterpreted in high-tech sportswear materials.fall 1994 Schoolgirl collection, Sui focused on Yves Saint Laurent‘s most iconic designs, which she reinterpreted in high-tech sportswear materials.
Saint Laurent was also a superb colorist, as reflected in the collection’s use of bold colors. The sportswear sensibility extended to a series of outfits inspired by cheerleader uniforms, many of which Sui accessorized with pom-pom hats by James Coviello.
Jacket Front and Back Detail
Schoolgirl Collection Installation View: Cheerleader Ensemble (far right) worn with plastic/wool pom-pom hat by James Coviello for Anna Sui; Plastic belt, two necklaces, and bracelets by Erickson Beamon for Anna Sui; fishnet nylon hose and acetate/satin-covered domestic cowhide short boots by Emma Hope for Anna Sui.
Photographed in the Museum of Arts and Design in Manhattan.
“I think that, with hindsight, this may have been a moment in my career where my own past and present truly came together, more so that with other collections, which, however much I cherished them, were a carefully stitched-together tapestry of obsessively researched elements. My Grunge collection was more ‘felt’ than it was thought.”
The 1993 Grunge collection secured Anna Sui’s place in the history of fashion. She saw Seattle’s grunge music scene as the major force in the youth culture of that period, and used the layering and mixing typical of its style to great effect, riffing on the youthful sincerity of the movement to produce some of the most influential looks of the nineties.
Anna Sui Grunge Kilt Ensemble, Detail: Polyester and Cotton Tank and Leggings with Totton Kilt and Shorts
Grunge style sprang out of a Seattle subculture in which a new wave of musicians, including Nirvana fronted by Kurt Cobain, sported a “thrift store” style of dressing that seemed to mirror their novel sound. This “un-fashion” style chimed with the decade’s rejection of the excesses of the 1980s and quickly went from subculture to mass culture. Marc Jacobs, working for Perry Ellis at the time, glamorized this style to create a grunge collect for Sping 1993. Sui’s references to grunge in her own collection, in contrast, are colored with optimism and a “hippie” sensibility. The outfit seen here features a kilt, widely associated with grunge, as well as a flower belt more reminiscent of the sixties or seventies
Lunchbox by Designs from the Deep, Cowhide/Rubber Boots by John Fluevog for Anna Sui
Anna Sui Grunge Kilt Ensemble (Spring 1993) Photographed in the Museum of Arts and Design
The importance of storytelling is clear in Anna Sui’s collections, which conjure an imaginary world of Icelandic princesses, pirates, fairies, Vikings and enchanted animals. Complementing these historical and fantastical figures, her runway shows have featured whimsical, surreal accessories from animal hats to gingerbread handbags.
This dress was inspired by Napoleon Bonaparte and the introduction of the Empire style to France in the early nineteenth century.
Sui gave the gown a punk makeover by cutting it off mid-thigh. She created a series of these dresses in silk chiffon and crepe de Chine printed with hearts, roses, stripes and polka dots. Worn with petticoats and produced in a combination of red, white, and black, they recalled the designs of interior decorator Dorothy Draper, who was known for her dramatic deployment of black and white, as well as the punk clothes worn by members of the New York Dolls. Sui recalls, “Back in the 1970s, if you were part of the rock scene or if you went to clubs like Max’s or CBGB, you only wore red, white or black. Everything was heavily codified.” The French Empire, too, was governed by rigid codes, and this provided the link for Sui’s collection. The Dorothy Draper Pirate ensemble is from Sui’s spring 2007 collection.
Photographed in the Museum of Arts and Design in NYC.
Kei Kagami is a Japanese architect and designer living in London whose conceptual, avant-garde designs have been referred to as Torture Couture for their integration of mechanical elements and contraptions. What’s closer to the truth is that they are, like the haute couture of a designer like Alexander McQueen, wearable works of art.
Anatomy, biology, ecology and futurism combine in his more surreal designs in which glass tubes, vials and magnifying glasses are used to break the traditional boundaries and tackle themes of transformation, and a garment’s interaction with the wearer. Using an eclectic mix of materials such as silk, lether, metaol, plastic an glass, Kagami’s conceptual pieces are always informed by his study of architecture.
The Anatomy1 Ensemble (2007) was originally featured in the Museum at FIT’s 2008 show, Gothic: Dark Glamour, but it can also currently be seen as part of Exhibitionism: 50 Years of The Museum at FIT, on view through April 20th, 2019.
The Spring 2018 exhibition from The Met’s Costume Institute, entitled Heavenly Bodies: Fashion and the Catholic Imagination, ended its five-month run on October 8th, and broke all kinds attendance records, surpassing even that of 2011’sAlexander McQueen exhibition. Over these past few months, I’ve enjoyed bringing you design posts featuring some of my favorite highlights from the exhibit, seen at both its Met Fifth Avenue and Met Cloisters locations. I still have many photos that have not been publicshed, so I may be bringing you #MetHeavenlyBodies designs well into 2019! You’re welcome!
One of my vary favorite outfits, photographed over at the Met Cloisters is this Thom Browne-designed Wedding Ensemble with its cloud-like skirt, from his Spring/Summer 2018 collection. Created from a variety of materials including white mink, white silk organza, ribbons of white nylon tulle, embroidered white silk thread, gold bullion, pearls, crystals, clear glass, and mother-of-pearl, it was quite the show stopper!
It’s no accident that this piece was installed near the museum’s famous Unicorn tapestries, as you can see in the above photo where a Unicorn Head and Horn are formed with twisted tulle and gold bullion on the garment’s bodice.
Wedding Ensemble By Thom Browne with Unicorn Tapestries In Background
And on the back, yes, there they are, the subtle stab wounds that we see in the tapestries.
What may be even more striking than this ornate dress is the mannequin’s vibrant red hairpiece by celebrated hair stylist and wig-maker Shay Ashual, who designed all of the wigs for the exhibit. To quote Catherine Addington for Weekly Standard Dot Com, “In Ashual’s most stunning work, red-violet streaks matted to the face of the mannequin wearing a Thom Browne wedding dress conjure blood and beauty at once. Set against The Unicorn in Captivity, a tapestry that has often been interpreted as Passion symbolism, the hairpiece turns an otherwise enigmatic ensemble into the heavenly wedding garment of a martyr.”
This whimsical Wedding Ensemble from the Yves Saint Laurent Summer/Spring 1999 prêt–à–porter collection consists of two well positioned wreaths of flowers: a bikini-like bra top and hip-hugging bottom with a long train attached. For the confident bride!
While this design may seem a bit over-the-top for a traditional ceremony (and for any bride lacking a perfect model’s physique) there is no denying that the result is completely visually captivating. Accessories include a Bridal head wreath, bracelet and anklet all adorned with the same handmade pink and gold silk flowers and leaves (by Lemarie) that are also found on the top and bottom. The Train is machine-sewn pink silk gazar. Gazar is a silk (or wool) plain weave fabric made with high-twist double yarns woven as one. Gazar has a crisp hand and a smooth texture, and is often used in bridal and evening fashion due to its ability to hold its shape.
Photographed the Metropolitan Museum of Art’s Manus X Machina Fashion Exhibit in the Summer of 2016.