Geoffrey Beene (American, 1927–2004). Dress, fall/winter 1986–87. Black silk jersey and silver panné velvet. Gift of Geoffrey Beene, 2001 (2001.393.60)
Geoffrey Beene was an admirer of the work of Adrian, especially of his carefully mitered striped suits and elaborately pieced crepe dresses. Although Beene had explored pieced constructions and textile juxtapositions at various times in his career, his designs in the mid-1980s took on increasingly ambitious technical challenges. With this gown, the designer created a seemingly simple, if dramatic, graphic effect by manipulating two textiles of different tensile qualities and weights. Especially difficult to control is the conjunction of a knit (the Racine jersey) and a woven (the synthetic panne velvet).
His exploration of arcing cuts, beginning in this period, eventually lead to constructions that eliminated the sideseams and violated any conventional notion of front or back. Therefore, even though this gown is still anchored in the techniques utilized by Adrian, it represents the first step in Beene’s development of the audacious and unprecedented cuts that would characterize his work of the 1990s.