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Fashion exhibit The Metropolitan Museum of Art

The Met’s Camp:Notes on Fashion

camp

The aesthetic of “Camp” comes from the French “Se Camper” or “to flaunt”. The first use of the word and aesthetic was introduced 1671 during the play ” The Impostures of Scapin”. In this comedy a servant it told to “camp it up” and ‘strut around like a drama queen”. “Se camper” not only alludes to being overly dramatic or extravagant but also to a pose that derives from  a man standing with his hand on his hip. This type of pose originally represented power and relaxation, until the Renaissance where it also became associated with homosexuality. Through the 1700 the word camp became used in the crossdressing community, mainly as a code word of a sort to describe noblemen who dressed as women, and later on in the 1800’s -1900’s to describe men in England who became famous for dressing as women. Although arrested or worse, many men who were “camp” did go out in public dressed as women. Two in particular Fredrik Park and Ernest Boulton created a small touring theatrical company  in the1800’s and played the characters Franny and Stella. Click on picture to enlarge.

Author Oscar Wilde was also connected to the camp community. This affiliation was used against him when he tried to file a lawsuit against the father of his lover, Lord Alfred . Throughout his life his relationship with Lord Alfred Douglas is well documented and so were his instructions to actors in his plays to wear symbolisms of camp culture. Both were used as evidence in the trial against him for “gross indecency” in the 1800’s. He was sentence to two years of hard labor in prison. The popularity of the trial and his sentence made Wilde a martyr and cemented the overlapping of camp culture with homosexuality.

 

Isherwoodian Camp:

In 1954 author Christopher Isherwood wrote “The World in the Evening”. Which basaclly broke down camp into high camp and low camp. High camp being one of a man who partakes in sophisticated activites and low camp being a boy in a feather boa. To him high camp was seriousness, expressed in fun, artifice and elegance.

camp

Jean Paul Gaultier

 

Sontagian Camp:

In the Fall of 1964 Susan Sontag wrote “Notes on Camp” in the Partisan Review. She was the first to approach camp and study it as a subject in society that leveled the playing field and offered indifference between high art, pop culture and cultural hierarchies. Her notes pushed camp into mainstream society. In her notes on camp she mentions the following items, which could all be found at the Met.

 

She also wrote the differences on naïve camp and delibrate camp, which in part agrees with Isherwoodian camp. Naïve camp is being unintentional while deliberate camp is being calculated and manufacturesd. The fashion showed in this section are examples of niave and delibrate camp next to one another.

 

 

Camp Eye: During this part of the exhibition, camp is featured in a louder and bolder light as it became more acceptable in society. The fashion showcased here are categorized under 18 statements that talk about key aspects of camp, or what camp means to the designers showcased. I won’t list all the statements, but I found this one by Susan Sontang to be the most direct. “Camp is not a natural mode of sensibility, if there be any such. Indeed the essence of Camp is its love of the unnatural: of artifice and exaggeration.”

 

 

 

Because of its ability to shock, Camp makes its way into times of divide whether in society or politics. Camp is different things to different people, whether they identify it as gay, a way to be extravagant or a way to showcase what’s happening around them. Camp: Notes on Fashion is open until September 8th at the Metropolitan Museum of Art.-T.S.

 

Fashion exhibit The Museum at FIT

Fabric in Fashion Exhibition at the Museum of FIT

Fabric in Fashion

 

Do you know what fabric your clothes are made of? Ever wonder why a specific fabric was chosen to create a garment you own? I learned about this when I was in college along with other fabric specifications. That is why when I walked into the Fabric in Fashion exhibition at the Museum at FIT I felt like I was taking another course in college. Another reminder was the guide talking to a small group of students as she explained the different fabrics. If you have a loved one that sews, you’ll also know that fabric selection is important, even if its just for kitchen curtains. A project like that would need a fabric that can resist sun fading, could be easily cleaned and so on. The same goes for the creation of gowns, you want a fabric that will provide movement and work well with the natural form of the body.

 

All fabrics are not made the same, so it is important that a designer and your local seamstress choose the correct one. Being so, you can imagine that choosing the right fabrics can be a designer’s most important decision when creating entire collections. This precise decision making has been taking place since the 18th century when dressmakers would use specific fabrics and colors to symbolize status and hierarchy.  Here is the breakdown of fabrics and how and why they are used both in the past and present.

 

Cotton– Cotton originated in India and was used as a source of economic control by the British when they invaded the country during the 1700s. The production of cheaper cotton and the use of machinery led to the Industrial Revolution in 18th century Britain. And finally during the 19th-century, cotton became a huge source of income for the United States. Around a total of  $115 million dollars was earned in the cotton industry as a result of slavery in cotton fields. The properties of cotton made it a high commodity throughout centuries thanks to its ability to dye easily, breath on the body, take prints and retain colors even after many wash cycles.

 

 

Wool– Originating from Mesopotamia wool production crossed into the surrounding countries. Soon England began using it and by 1660 it became a major source of their trade. The colonization of Australia and New Zealand also lead to new sources of wool. This fiber has the ability to be flexible, relislant, and flame resistant. Not to mention the warmth it generates and its ability to be dyed.  It is also a source fabric in tailoring thanks to its reactions to heat and moisture which make it a moldable fabric. Pieces shown here are from the 1800’s -2018 from England, Italy, France, the USA and India.  Designers include Lilly Dache, Mila Schon, a red coat enseamble by Azzedine Alaia and Bomber jacket ensemble by Brodice Studio.

 

 

Synthetics– Synthetics are man-made fabrics produced by chemicals that create cellulose, a fiber that can be found in plants. During the 1930s American companies were the foreleaders in discovering synthetic fibers and the creation of synthetic fabric. In the ’50s, ’60s and ’70s synthetics were popular not only in fast fashion but in Haute Couture. This material was lower in cost to produce and introduced new fabrics to the market, many that imitate naturally produced fabrics like silk. Although highly resourceful, synthetics are not biodegradable and are a large component of the pollution problem that is part of the fashion industry.

 

Synthetic fabrics include Nylon, Rayon, Polyester, Spandex, Acrylic imitating wool and Acetate imitating silk. A big example of synthetics is the creation of sportswear garments, which use spandex, nylon and more thanks to its wicking abilities to let go of moisture. Examples shown here range from the 1930’s- 1970’s with pieces including the purple Courreges vinyl coat and pink Ultrasuede Halston dress. A mustard yellow and burgundy ensemble by Nigel Atkinson and Junichi Arai. And finally, an Issey Miyake ruffled cape ensemble and Jean Paul Gaultier nylon, acrylic and rayon suit.

 

 

 

Silk– Originating from China, this woven textile was a sign of wealth in the mid 18th century. It was also a predominate fabric in the creation of robes for clergy in the Catholic church. Western fashion not only took to this fabric originating in the East but was inspired by Chinese culture with prints and through the styling of silk fabrics. The garments shown here were created as far back as the 1700s to the present day.

 

 

 

Knits- A knit is a textile that is created from one yarn or set of yarns. Knitting via machinery was introduced in England in 1589. It is one of the most popular fabrics used thanks to its properties. It has the ability to stretch, conform to a body and it is also the fastest fabric to work with due to the fact that it is created with one single yarn. The ensembles shown here range from 1810 and 1920 Lelong, 1970 Missoni, 1980’s Azzedine Alaia, a yellow 1940’s Madame Gres for Alix dress, 1970’s Stephen Burrows ensemble, 2010 Ohne Titel muti-media dress and an orange 2015 Alexander Wang knit dress.

 

 

Couture Textiles– Before the mid-19th-century designers were not allowed to sell their own textiles, they were only allowed to use what a customer brought into them to work with. After the mid 19th century this rule was changed and designers began obtaining their own fabrics and creating their own designs. By the 20th century, designers moved on to incorporating fabrics from international sources and adding synthetics to their fabrics. Thus the birth of couture textiles, one of a kind fabrics, was introduced. Pieces in this section include House of Worth 1900, Boue Soeurs 1919, Nina Ricci 1935 cherry closure dress and cape, Bob Bugnand dress and mink trim coat. It also includes a silver and gold 1958 aluminum and plastic film fiber evening dress, 1962 Christian Dior yellow silk evening dress, 1862 Balenciaga evening cape and a 2011 Chado Ralph Rucci woven motif white coat.

 

 

Prints projected on a plain dress.

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This exhibition will be open at the Museum at FIT until May 4, 2019.

 

Now that you know a little bit more about fabrics I encourage you to pay attention to what you’re wearing. The use of these fabrics require diffrent methods of use and care, and are purposefully used by designers as such. So do you know what fabric you’re wearing?-T.S.

art fashion Fashion exhibit History The Metropolitan Museum of Art

Heavenly Bodies: Fashion and the Catholic Imagination Part 2

heavenly bodies part 2

Currently on display at the Met Museum on Fifth and the Cloisters in the fashion exhibition Heavenly Bodies: Fashion and the Catholic Imagination. Read part one here, the premise of this exhibition is fashions relationship with the Catholic religion and religions in general. Many of the designers showcased grew up in the Catholic church or still practice a belief. Items like Papal robes and other catholic dress were on loan to the museum. While the designer pieces were set among artifacts found in Medieval time periods or set in the Cloisters, a regal feeling building. To get a total understanding of how the exhibition flows, its best to visit both locations. Can’t make it? Keep reading, and don’t forget to read part one. Click images to enlarge.

 

Items From the Vatican.

These items were not allowed to be photographed. Only the artifact in the entrance was allowed to be photographed. Inside this portion of the exhibition were papal dress worn by Vatican Popes including crosses made of precious stones and gold, crowns, zucchetto skullcaps and various robes among other items.

Heavenly bodies

Chasuble Designed by Henri Matisse-1950

 

 

Treasures For Heaven I

Medieval churches held many treasures within them and like those found in the Cloisters, they inspired designers. Pieces that inspired them include alter frontals, stained glass, rosaries and more. This section included a piece by Alexander McQueen, which consisted of a S/S 1999 Ensemble made of plywood, leather, wood and lace. This piece was apart of the ‘No. 13″ collection where he explored the tension between man and machine. Pictures were not allowed.

 

Earthly Hierarchy

In this portion of the exhibition religious dress and color schemes are examined. It showcases the different religious dress within one religion, usually expressing a hierarchy and religious differences in dress between different religions. Focusing mainly on the Roman Catholic church where colors black, violet, white and scarlet are heavily used. They also highlight hue changes for specific occasions within Catholic proceedings.

 

 

The Habit

This religious dress worn by females usually consists of a tunic, a scapular or apron, a veil and a sash at the waist.

 

 

 

The Dominican Habit

Perhaps the most widely recognized Habit thanks to Hollywood is the Dominican Habit. Its black and white contrast has a  stronger visual appeal for designers, as opposed to the simple brown and plain white of other habits.

heavenly bodies part 2

Thom Browne A/W 2011-12

 

The Soutane

The  everyday dress of the secular clergy is the Soutane. Created in the late 12th century this garment usually has a white clerical collar, a floor length, long sleeves and 33 buttons. Daily dress is normally a black soutane with a sash and skullcap.

 

 

 

Ecclesiastical Fashion Show

The liturgical processions of the Roman Catholic Church have similarities to a fashion show. Both follow an orderly arrangement, involve active and passive participants and involve music. The following designs were put in a fashion show like order and were placed near the rolling film “Roma” by Federico Fellini in which there is an “ecclesiastical fashion show” scene.

 

 

 

 

Celestial Hierarchy I

Inspired by saints, angels and the hierarchy of the Roman Catholic Church. Angels, which usually are depicted as guides and messengers for humans, inspired many fashion designers.

 

 

The Dressed Madonna

Many designers created and continue to create garments for Madonna and Child sculptures. Featured here are vestments created by Ricardo Tisci and Yves Saint Laurent.

 

 

 

Celestial Hierarchy II

The designers showcased here were inspired by early Italian Renaissance paintings that were based on religious themes. Particularly inspiring were saints, angels, The Virgin and the work of painter Fra Angelico, who specified in frescos following this theme.

 

 

Mosaics I

Inspired by Byzantine art that showcases figures such as Christ, The Virgin Mary and more. Dolce and Gabbana were inspired by fresco paintings found in the Moreale Cathedral in Sicily.

 

 

Mosaics II 

The Gianni Versace dresses showcased here were inspired by mosaics of Ravenna’s Byzantine monuments. The mesh like material and cross take inspiration from elements Gianni saw in the Met when he visited “The Glory of Byzantium” exhibit in 1997.

 

 

Heavenly Bodies: Fashion and the Catholic Imagination will be on display at the Met on Fifth and the Cloisters until October 8th 2018. I hope you can check it out, and see how fashion is inspired by everything, even religion. Have you been able to visit the exhibit? What were your favorite parts? -T.S.

Fashion exhibit The Metropolitan Museum of Art

The Met’s Heavenly Bodies: Fashion and the Catholic Imagination Exhibition

It’s always said that there are certain things you shouldn’t talk about. Politics, money, family, and religion to name a few. Perhaps because these are highly personal decisions, that when revealed can draw a striking line between people. Although opinions always differ by who is viewing that topic and who interprets it. That is exactly what the exhibition Heavenly Bodies is, an interpretation on religion through the translation of fashion.  It is also an exclusive view into Papal dress and ceremonial items with the blessing of the Vatican. Many of the designers that contributed pieces to the exhibition, were raised in the Roman Catholic church or similar religions. Of which they used the physical symbolism, garments, and the religious orders to inspire their work.

 

The exhibition spans the Met on Fifth and the Met Cloisters. The Met on Fifth hosts the papal portion of the exhibition and designer items spread out among the Anna Wintour Costume Center, The Medieval and Byzantine Art Wing and the Robert Lehman Wing, while the Cloisters hosts designer items showcased near artworks, architecture or similar pieces that directly inspired them. Some corresponding categories were split between both museums, so to understand the order you should visit both. The Cloisters was a perfect place to hold this exhibition as the building itself is reminiscent of a medieval castle or antique church. I talk about the Cloisters and how you can visit all three Met Museums in this post! (Click images to enlarge, press esc to go back)

 

The Cloisters part of the exhibition:

 

The Dressed Madonna II

This  Viktor & Rolf dress references  the Madonna and Child symbolism popular in the Middle Ages in Western Europe. To translate this symbol the designers created the ” Russian Doll Collection”, in which they took inspiration from the Madonna nesting a child in her lap as well as the traditional Russian Nesting Doll.

 

Holy Sacraments I

The designers in this portion of the exhibit were inspired by the act of Baptism. Karl Lagerfeld by the dresses worn by girls in France and Cristobal Balenciaga by the figures of the Virgin he saw in church processions.

 

 

 

 

Holy Sacraments  II

This Marc Bohan dress was part of his debut collection for Dior. It is named the ” Hymenee” after the Hellenistic god of marriage. Although there are also inspirations from the nun and monk habit.

 

 

 

 

Cult of the Virgin 

The dresses displayed here are from the Jean Paul Gaultier S/S 2007 Haute Couture collection ” Les Vierges” ( The Virgins). Inspired by the Blessed Virgin Mary. Each detail of the dress representing Mary, the blue, halo, veil and heart all an iconography depicting stages of her life.

 

 

 

 

Religious Orders

 

I couldn’t get close to all of these pieces, which included designers Rick Owens, Madame Gres, Valentina, Geoffrey Beene, Claire McCardell, and Pierpaolo Piccioli. These designers were largely inspired by simplicity and specifically for these pieces, the monastery.

 

The Crusades II

Craig Greene is continually inspired by Christian figures such as King Arthur. He mixes religious and military inspirations, practically the Orthodox Church with Islamic carpets for these pieces. Mixing both military and different religions.

 

Sacred/Secular

Inspired by the tapestry “The Unicorn in Captivity”. A piece of art that has been interpreted by Christianity and Secular groups to represent different meanings. This Thom Browne wedding dress mixes both meanings, Christ (Christian meaning) and a happy groom bonded by marriage (secular meaning).

 

Mary Mother of God

Inspiration for these pieces come from Mary, Mother of God. Chanel was inspired by stain glass windows found in a church in Germany. The windows depict Mary in a blue gown with wheat. Grain is a representation of the nourishment Mary gave and God’s bounty.

 

 

 

The Annunciation

Inspired by the Annunciation Triptych a Netherlandish painting. Mainly the subjects of the red robe of the virgin and the wings of an angel. The volume of both of these subjects is depicted by the feather outlines of the dress. It was also inspired by the painting Hans Memling’s Virgin and Child Enthroned with Two Angels.

 

 

 

 

 

Gothic Art and Fashion:

This part of the exhibition held designs by Alexander McQueen that were not allowed to be photographed. Alexander McQueen was inspired by religion, specifically the religions found in Netherland inspired paintings. On display in this section of the exhibition are pieces from his A/W 2010/11 collection that was showed after his death in Feb of 2010. Specific inspiration came from altar pieces and religious paintings and McQueen’s constant pursue of translating death and the after-life.

 

 

 

 

 

The Garden of Eden

These pieces were inspired by paintings that depicted Adam and Eve and the garden in which they resided.

 

 

The Crusades I

Inspired by armored giant of the d’Aluye family in France who crusaded across Europe preaching the gospel. This practice lasted three generations.

 

 

Treasures For Heaven II

This part of the exhibition focused on the objects or treasures churches held. Such as  carved wood, silver, gold reliquaries, and ceremonial vessels. Pieces made by medieval artists found within these treasures and more inspired these designers.

I’ll have a separate post on the items found at the Met on Fifth included in this exhibition. Heavenly Bodies: Fashion and the Catholic Imagination will be open until October 8th.- T. S.

Fashion exhibit The Museum at FIT

Norell: Dean of American Fashion

Considered the “American Balenciaga” Norman Norell was the father of creating ready-to-wear with haute couture techniques and quality. His collections were worn by celebrities, first ladies and were featured in many films and tv shows during the 50’s and 60’s. His creations and improvements on ready-to-wear clothing and their everlasting impact of fashion revel him the Dean of American Fashion.

With a background in costume creation Norell chose only the best fabrics for his ready to wear collections. Every detail down to the lining of each garment was made in his NYC atelier. Although his work was worthy of boutique prices, Norell insisted his collections be sold to the masses in department stores. A lover of the past and yet ahead of his time Norell drew inspiration from 1920’s and designed culottes in the 1960’s, pants that would only be popular years later.

After the Indiana native moved to New York to gain a fashion design education he quickly moved into costume designing. Although by 1928 his career as a fashion designer began when he designed for Hattie Carnegie, a prestigious New York fashion house.

Norell for Hattie Carnegie

Norell

Norell for Hattie Carnegie 1932

Norell

Norell for Hattie Carnegie 1939. Gingham Hostess Gown

 

 

Before creating his own line Norell worked with garment manufacturer Anthony Traina in 1941. Under this partnership they created the Traina Norell label.

Triana-Norell New York

norell

Right-Traina-Norell NY Off-white sailor dress 1957

 

By 1960 Norell bought out Traina and created the Norell line.

Norman Norell New York

Norell

Norman Norell NY black rhinestone dress, 1972.
Norell: Mink fur and velvet evening coat, 1970.

Norell

Norman Norell New York. Nutmeg Sheth Dress 1965. Turned inside out showcasing the silk lining put into his creations. This was one of the many hand applied couture details Norell put into his garments.

Norell

Norman Norell NY 1960-64.The ‘mermaid” gown was one of Norell’s signature pieces. The style was inspired by Hollywood glamour, which he created into ready-to-wear. It was one of his most popular creations.

Norell

Norman Norell NY: Camel suit 1972 and heather 1969 suit. Techniques here included lining the jackets in sequins.

Norell

Both Norman Norell NY 1966. In these pieces he used silhouettes that originated in the 1920’s. These belonged to actress Lauren Bacall.

 

 

 

Norell

Norell: Double breasted coat 1963-67. In the 1940’s followed the trend of infusing menswear into women’s garments. His wool coats are some of his best menswear infused pieces.

norell

Norman Norell NY 1968 Sailor Gown. Inspired by the sailor suits he wore as a child.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

These are the styles that Norell perfected with his couture techniques and ready to wear collections:

  • Mermaid Gowns
  • Culottes
  • Wool Jersey and Colorblocking
  • Flappers
  • Fur Trims
  • Double Sided Breasted Silhouette
  • Pant Suits
  • Shaped Suits
  • Wedged Shaped Coats
  • The Pussycat Bow
  • Belts
  • Collars and Capes
  • Color Choices
  • Sailor Suit
  • Kimono Style Wrap dress
  • The Perfect Little Black Dress
  • Empire Waist
  • Full Skirts
  • Fantasy Coats
  • The Ultimate Evening Skirt
  • Mermaids

Scroll through the slideshows to see the styles mentioned above designed for the Norman Norell, Triana and Hattie Carniege collections.

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This highly respected and beloved American Couturier won the Coty Award five times and a honorary doctorate from the Pratt Institute. He was also the second president of the Council of fashion designers of America and celebrated by the Metropolitan Museum of Art amongst many other accolades. Norell: Dean of American Fashion is open until April 14, 2018 at the Museum at FIT.

T.S.

fashion Fashion exhibit Jewelry The Museum at FIT Uncategorized

The Museum at FIT’S Expedition: Fashion from the Extreme (Arctic)

Museum at FIT

Currently on display at The Museum of FIT is the exhibition Expedition: Fashion From the Extreme. The exhibition explores how the discoveries during ocean, space and mountain expeditions influenced fashion. During the 17th century people began to explore the natural world and by the 19th century crucial parts of science such as biology were being discovered. Author of Twenty Thousand Leagues under the Sea and creator of science fiction, Jules Verne impacted society with his stories that were based on the latest discoveries. While Charles Darwin’s work was also impactful on the way society viewed the natural world. Science, new worlds discovered as well as indigenous people and their culture inspired western fashion for eternity.

 

Arctic: The very first extreme exploration took place during the 1880-1920’s with the Heroic Age of Arctic Exploration. Explorer Robert Leary returned in 1909 to America wearing fur originally worn by the indigenous Inuit people of the North Pole. By 1919 designers in New York showcased fashion influenced by Siberian objects in the American Museum of Natural History. WWII created a need for arctic inspired clothing for soldiers whose uniforms and parka’s were influenced by the Inuit people of the North Pole. Once the 1960’s arrived fashion publications such as Vogue sent models to the Arctic to (photo) shoot amongst the icebergs in the latest fashions. In the 1990’s the parka took on various forms during the eras hip-hop rise. Both designers, such as Tommy Hilfiger and rappers adopted the coat as a statement piece that eventually became an everyday coat. The exhibition showcases both indigenous Arctic fashions and modern-day Arctic inspired pieces.

I will have two other post on the Safari, Space and Deep Sea parts of the exhibition as well. Expedition: Fashion From the Extreme is open until January 6, 2018 at the Museum at FIT.

T.S.