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).
Henri Lédéchaux bred the French hybrid rose Madame Ferdinand Janin in 1875. It was imported into the United States in 1886, where it was renamed American Beauty.
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.’
Photographed in The Museum at FIT in Manhattan.
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.
Photographed at The Museum at FIT in October 2017 as Part of the Exhibit, Expedition: Fashion From The Extreme.
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.
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.
John Paul Gaultier was among the createurs who helped make French fashion so exciting in the 1980s. The way he played with conventions of sex and gender, in particular, has had a profound influence on fashion. For example, rather than using coresetry to reinforce conventional ideals of beauty, Gaultier has always emphasized that many body types, genders and ages can be attractive. This Orange Shirred Velvet Corset Dress, featuring Gaultier’s signature cone bra top (made famous by Madonna) is from his 1984 Fall collection.
Photographed as part of the Exhibit Paris, Capital of Fashion at the Museum at FIT in NYC.