Archive for January, 2008

Wednesday, January 30, 2008

Slav to Fashion

Yves Saint Laurent

Yves Saint Laurent Evening Ensemble

Yves Saint Laurent (French, born Algeria, 1936). Evening Ensemble, fall/winter 1976-77. Blouse: multicolored floral printed silk chiffon with gold lamé polka-dot brocade; Skirt: black silk velvet and green silk moiré; Belt: maroon silk velvet with gold lamé, rhinestone, and silk embroidery and maroon and gold metallic and maroon silk twined rope and tassles. Bequest of Yolande Fielding-Scheftel, 2006 (2006.271.14a–e).

In the mid-1970s the relevance of haute couture was seriously debated. Read more »

Monday, January 28, 2008

Dye Job

Hamish Morrow

Hamish MorrowHamish MorrowHamish MorrowHamish Morrow

Hamish Morrow (British, born South Africa, 1968). Ensemble, spring/summer 2002. White polyester mesh, ivory and white silk/nylon blend foliate damask dipped in purple dye; faceted glass, silver wire, and white cotton canvas ties. The Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York, Gift of Hamish Morrow, 2006 (2006.367a–d).

Hamish Morrow is known for his adventurous exploration of materials and techniques—for example, employing ultrasonic welding or computerized printing. Read more »

Saturday, January 26, 2008

Outward Bound

Vivienne Westwood and Malcolm McLaren

Vivienne Westwood and Malcolm McLaren

Vivienne Westwood (British, b. 1941) and Malcolm McLaren (British, b. 1946). “Seditionaries” Top and Trousers, 1977. Top: Black cotton sateen, metal, and plastic; Trousers: Black cotton sateen, silver metal, braided nylon, and black plastic. The Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York, Purchase, Richard Martin Bequest and Friends of The Costume Institute Gifts, 2006 (2006.253.22 and 2006.253.23a, b).

Malcolm McLaren and Vivienne Westwood’s punk designs of the mid-to-late 1970s were as revolutionary as Poiret’s corsetless fashions of the early 1900s. Read more »

Thursday, January 24, 2008


Rudi Gernreich

Rudi Gernreich

Rudi Gernreich (American, born Austria, 1922–1985). Dress, ca. 1969. Black wool jersey and silver metal zipper. The Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York, Purchase, Funds from various donors, Isabel Shults Fund, and Millia Davenport and Zipporah Fleisher Fund, 2005 (2005.261).

Rudi Gernreich was originally trained as a dancer. Often working with colorful double-knits and jerseys, Gernreich predicated his designs on the notion of the body in movement. Read more »

Tuesday, January 22, 2008


Christian Dior

Christian Dior

Christian Dior (French, 1905–1957). Eventail Dinner Dress, fall/winter 1948–49. Black wool crepe, pink silk crush velvet, and black silk faille. The Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York, Isabel Shults Fund, 2006 (2006.20a–c).

After the sartorial constraints of World War II, Christian Dior’s presentation of 1947, with its emphasis on a silhouette with rounded shoulders, wasp waist, padded hips, and lowered hemline, created a sensation. Read more »

Sunday, January 20, 2008

A Dilly of a Dalí

Gilbert Adrian

Gilbert Adrian

Gilbert Adrian (American, 1903–1959). Print by Salvador Dalí (Spanish, 1904–1989). Dress, 1947. Light blue rayon crepe with pink, black, and gray printed Dalí motif and patches of polychrome printed rayon crepe appliqué. The Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York, Gift of Jones Apparel Group, USA, 2002 (2002.326.26a–c).

As a costume designer for MGM during Hollywood’s Golden Age, Gilbert Adrian (born Adolph Greenberg) dressed, among other stars of the studio, Katharine Hepburn, Joan Crawford, and Greta Garbo in some of their most famous roles. Read more »

Friday, January 18, 2008

Body Block

Hussein Chalayan

Hussein Chalayan
Hussein Chalayan (English, born Cyprus, 1970). Corset, fall/winter 1995–96. Amber wood and silver metal. The Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York, Purchase, Friends of The Costume Institute Gifts, 2006 (2006.252a, b).

Unlike much of Hussein Chalayan’s work, this corset was not created with the specific political and social narratives that generally inform his collections. Read more »

Wednesday, January 16, 2008

Piece Effort

Elsa Schiaparelli

Elsa SchiaparelliElsa Schiaparelli

Elsa Schiaparelli (French, born Italy, 1890–1973). Coat, spring 1939. Multicolored pieced felted wool. The Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York, Gift of Ruth Ford, 2002 (2002.479.4).

Society beauty and actress Ruth Ford was a favorite model for photographers from Cecil Beaton to George Platt Lynes. In the late 1930s the great British eccentric and Surrealist aficionado Edward James introduced her to Elsa Schiaparelli. Read more »

Monday, January 14, 2008


Odile Gilbert

Odile Gilbert (French, 1957) for Gaultier Paris (French, founded 1997). Top Hat, fall/winter 2006–7. Black human hair. The Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York, Alfred Z. Solomon-Janet A. Sloane Endowment Fund, 2007 (2007.168).

Odile Gilbert is the creator of the coiffures for many of the most important designers in both ready-to-wear and haute couture. It was Gilbert who designed the swansdown and feather coifs for the mannequins used in The Costume Institute’s 2005 “Chanel” exhibition. Read more »

Saturday, January 12, 2008

A Mechanical Ruse

Gabrielle “Coco” Chanel

Gabrielle “Coco” Chanel (French, 1883–1971). Ensemble, 1922. Brown silk georgette with red, green, and blue stylized floral silk thread chainstitch embroidery. The Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York, Purchase, Friends of The Costume Institute Gifts, 2005 (2005.114a, b).

When Karl Lagerfeld, the creative director of Chanel, first saw this ensemble, he immediately lifted its hem and examined the reverse of the lavish embroidery. “This is not handwork. It is machine,” he declared. Read more »

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