Tag Archive | Museum at FIT

Eye On Design: Obi Kimono Style Wrap Dress By Norman Norell

Kimono Style Wrap Dress
Photos By Gail

Unlike many 20th-century fashion designers, Norman Norell rarely sought inspiration from non-western or exotic cultures. Norell’s Obi dresses (circa 1965) were a rare exception. Named after the wide belt used to secure and ornament a Japanese Kimono, the wrap-wtyle Obi Dresses were constructed with a built-in panel of fabric that encased the upper torso using a hook and eye closure.This interior garment allowed the outer wrap layer to glide smoothly over the body.

Kimono Style Wrap Dress

Photographed as Part of the Exhibit Norell: Dean of American Fashion, at the Museum at FIT.

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Eye On Design: Gown for Leslie Jones Designed By Christian Siriano

Christian Siriano Red Dress
All Photos By Gail

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.

Leslie Jones In Red Dress

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.

Christian Siriano Red Dress

Photographed as Part of the Exhibit The Body: Fashion and Physique, On View at the Museum at FIT Through May 5th, 2018.

Eye On Design: Norman Norell’s Mermaid Dresses

Mermaid Dresses
All Photos By Gail

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 1972 Dark Purple 1965
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
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.

Eye On Design: Beaded Culottes Dress By Norman Norell

Beaded Culottes Dress
Photos By Gail 

In 1960, Norman Norrell  created one of his most daring and sensational innovations, the first culotte-skirted, wool flannel day suit. Soon thereafter, he debuted the culotted evening dress. Although it took years to gain widespread popularity, Norell responded to the fact that modern women were more mobile than ever and needed clothing to match their lifestyles.

Beaded Culottes Dress
Pale Pink Beaded Culottes Dress (1961), Chiffon with Glass Beads

Because he was convinced of the culotte’s value and insisted that it be made perfectly, Norell offered to give away his pattern to other Seventh Avenue clothing companies free of charge.

Photographed as part of the Exhibit, Norell: Dean of American Fashion, on View Through April 14th, 2018 at the Musuem at FIT in Manhattan.

Eye On Design: Twiggy London Girl Dress Circa 1966

Twiggy London Girl Dress
Photos By Gail

This Twiggy London Girl Dress (1966) was part of a product line by British teenage model Twiggy, so nicknamed due to her skinny, twig-like frame. The short, A-line construction plays on the silhouette that many designers were working with during the 1960s to free wearers from the heavily structured styles of the previous decade.

Twiggy Fashions

Twiggy came to embody the increasingly thin, youthful ideal of the ’60s and remains a key reference in debates about body image.

Photographed in the Museum at FIT in Manhattan as part of the Exhibit, The Body: Fashion and Physique, on View Through May 5th, 2018.

Eye On Design: Lucy Jones Shirt for Wheelchair Users

Lucy Jones Shirt
All Photos By Gail

Lucy Jones creates fashionable garments for wheelchair users and people with diverse abilities who sit for extended hours at a time. Both groups of people are often unable to consume mainstream fashion. Jones designed this Shirt (2017) for a seated body. It has a cropped silhouette to prevent bunching and discomfort, and features easy-to-use magnetic fasteners.

Lucy Jones Shirt Sleeve Detail

The sleeves, including the example above, are also designed for ease of dressing.

Lucy Jones Shirt Installation View
Installation View

Photographed as Part of the Exhibit The Body: Fashion and Physique, On View a the Museum at FIT Through May 5th, 2018.

Eye On Design: Down Filled Evening Jacket by Charles James

Down Filled Evening Jacket
All Photos By Gail

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.

Model Wearing the Jacket
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

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.