This Pink and Black Sequined Mini Dress (autumn / winter 1983 – 84) is characteristic of paradoxical charm of the work of Stephen Sprouse (1953 – 2004). He often sited the cutout, mini-skirted styles that designers like Andre Courreges and Rudi Gernreich introduced in the 1960s, yet he reartciluated these silhouettes within the distinct cultural context of 1980s New York. From his debut collection, he established a unique look, artfully integrating pop culture and street style into youthful fashions executed in luxurious materials.
Sprouse was particularly known for his ability to sketch: the graffiti motifs developed for his textiles were frequently drawn by his own hand. The scrawled neon print of this dress has been skillfully engineered and embroidered with a gleaming layer if clear paillettes, lending a patina of glamour to an otherwise edgy garment.
Photographed as part of the exhibit In Pursuit of Fashion: The Sandy Schreier Collection, on view through May 17th, 2020 at The Metropolitan Museum of Art in NYC.
In 1970, Life magazine invited Rudi Gernreich (1922 – 1985) to envision what people would wear a decade in the future. He extended his prediction to the year 2000, illustrating men and women in matching ensembles with heads either shaved or wigged. Unlike other contemporaneous unisex styles, Gernreich’s designs did not use menswear as a baseline for women’s garments. “Women will wear pants and men will wear skits interchangeably,” he predicted. “The aesthetics of fashion are going to involve the body itself. We will train the body to grown beautifully rather than cover it to produce beauty.”
Gernreich brought his concept to life for the U.S. Pavillion’s Art and Technology Program at Expo ’70, a memorable World’s Fair in Osaka, Japan. He eliminated stylistic markers of gender on his models. “Our notion of masculine and feminine are being challenged as never before.” he asserted. “The basic masculine – feminine appeal is in people, not in clothes.” These sentiments are echoed today, as fashion continues to shift its understanding of gender as fluid.
Unisex Jumpsuits with White Boots, Installation View
Photographed as Part of the Exhibit, Items: Is Fashion Modern, on View Through January 28th, 2018 at The Museum of Modern Art in NYC.