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.
The Pink Dress that Gwyneth Paltrow wore to the 1999 Academy Awards was designed by Ralph Lauren to recall Grace Kelly. Featured in Hal Rubenstein’s 100 Unforgettable Dresses, it testifies to the enduring appeal of a pretty pink dress that makes the wearer look like a princess.
Photographed as Part of The Exhibit, Pink: The History of a Punk, Pretty, Powerful Color, on Exhibit Through January 5th, 2019 at The Museum at FIT, Located at Seventh Avenue and 27th Street in NYC.
Christian Siriano designed this dress for actress Leslie Jones to wear to a film premiere. Jones had tweeted that due to her physique, no fashion designer was willing to dress her for red carpet events. Siriano responded to her, saying he would be proud to design a dress for her.
The result was this stunning Red Silk Crepe Faille floor-length gown that she wore to the 2016 premiere of Ghostbusters, and Jones looks fantastic in it. This situation sparked a public debate about the marginalization of certain body types by contemporary brands.
Photographed as Part of the Exhibit The Body: Fashion and Physique, On View at the Museum at FIT Through May 5th, 2018.
Aptly called the Mermaid, Norman Norell’s shimmering, sequin-covered evening gown is arguably his most recognizable creation. Like many designers, he was influenced by Hollywood costumes, especially those created during the Golden Age. In fact, Norell began his career working for both Brooks Costume Company and Paramount Pictures during the 1920s. It is not surprising that he was one of the most successful at incorporating silver screen glamour in his luxurious, ready-to-wear evening garments, especially his Mermaid gowns.
Silver Blue Evening Gown (1972); Dark Purple Long Sleeve Evening Dress (1965)
What made Norell’s Mermaids so successful was his ability to strike the perfect balance of physical comfort and visual impact. Most often, he made the gowns using a base of knitted silk jersey. The base was then covered with a dazzling pavé of hand-applied sequins that were dyed repeatedly to match the jersey. Each of the tiny, reflective discs was sewn on with its on unique stitch pattern, allowing the sequins to shift and move independently. The result was a garment that reflected the maximum amount of light
Forest Green Evening Dress (1972)
Photographed as part of the Exhibit, Norell: Dean of American Fashion, on View Through April 14th, 2018 at the Musuem at FIT in Manhattan.