It may be difficult to discern in the dim museum lighting, but the front of this bright Pink Dress features the scene of a rocket launch, and was created in 1968 by American graphic artist Harry Gordon at the height of the international space race.
An identical rocket image adorns the dress’ back. This and other screen-printed paper dress designs by Gordon were manufactured by UK-based company Poster Dress, Ltd. Selling for about $3.00 each and fabricated from tissue, wood pulp and rayon mesh, the dress came with the proclamation: ‘Toughness is woven into the non-woven fabric for long, l-o-n-g wear, and should you tire (which is doubtful), just cut open all the seams and hang it on your wall as a mammoth poster.’
In 1995, the Isaac Mizrahi documentary Unzipped was released and it was an immediate hit. Unzipped details the making of Mizrahi’s 1994 fall collection, which was partly inspired by the groundbreaking 1922 documentary, Nanook of the North.
In one dramatic scene, Mizrahi appears crestfallen to learned that designer Jean Paul Gaultier has also produced and ‘Eskimo-inspired’ collection — but Mizrahi need not have worried. His ebullient and cheerful take on Arctic chic — which include Technicolor Parka’s and billowing, vibrantly striped even skirts — in no way resembled Gaultier’s more literal adaptations.
Lumberjack Evening Ensemble, Parka Hood Detail
Photographed at The Museum at FIT in October 2017 as Part of the Exhibit, Expedition: Fashion From The Extreme.
In 1937, Anglo-American couturier Charles James created the first high-fashion, down-filled jacket; an early James masterpiece. James meticulously constructed this classically inspired garment around the human form, resulting in a jacket quite unlike the boxy version produced by Eddie Bauer.
Photo of Model Wearing the Jacket
Soft and pliable, it was also dramatically different from James‘ own best known work: gowns as rigid as the hats he designed. The James jacket reappeared in the fashion press decades later. It then gained cult status and also may have inspired a number of New York designers who began to make their versions of the down-filled parka during the 1970s.
Down Filled Evening Jacket by Charles James was photographed in the Metropolitan Museum of Art in July 2014 (Top Photo) and in the Museum at FIT as part of the Exhibit, Expedition: Fashion from the Extreme, which closed January 6th, 2018.
The spring 1991 collection by Karl Lagerfeld for Chanel was clearly inspired by surfing wet-suits. The Blue and Black Sequined Grosgrain Jacket was one of several brightly-colored versions covered in shimmering sequins that glistened like wet neoprene, and the lines of black, grosgrain trim are similar to the seams of a wet-suit. Lagerfeld called this jacket “the city surfer” look and noted that it was “perfect for diving into the nightlife from Paris to Rome to London to New York.”
Photographed as part of the Exhibit Expedition: Fashion from the Extreme which Runs Through at January 6, 2018 the Museum at FIT In Manhattan.
Above and Below, New Shots Added February 9, 2019 from The Current Exhibit, Exhbitionism: 50 Years of the Museum at FIT.