You might have guessed that the next theme addressed by Fabulous Fashion is color. First up is this 2013 dress which is a reinterpretation of a 1952 dress made from fabric designed by artist Ellsworth Kelly. This dress was made by Calvin Klein Collection.
If it is difficult to imagine that dress as originating in 1952, the museum has kindly provided visitors with a photo of the original dress, along with Kelly’s study for it. Anne Weber, the woman in the photo, actually sewed the dress using the Kelly-created fabric.
I am sorry about the fuzziness of this photo. I am working on this; I promise.
Left to right:
Charles James, 1955 Pagoda Suit. There are solid color versions of this suit, which better show James’s trademark structure. I actually did not recognize this as a Charles James until the docent pointed it out.
Issey Miyake, 1994 Flying Saucer Dress. This style of Miyake’s folds flat like a paper lantern.
Giorgio di Sant’ Angelo, 1971 bodysuit and skirt. Haute Hippie.
This 1962 palazzo pants ensemble was designed by Italian Irene Galitzine. The difference in color of the skirt and the jumpsuit is due to the jumpsuit being beaded. This piece was getting a lot of attention from the crowd, and it deserved it.
This cheerful top and skirt was one of my favorites. It’s by Stephen Burrows, made in 1971 for his boutique within the Henri Bendel store in New York. Burrows is one of those designers that I remember fondly from my teen years, and I still have a very soft spot for his designs.
Here we have moved from color to metallics. It’s always fun to see a Paco Rabanne creation (left, 1966), though I’m also reminded of what Audrey Hepburn said about the Rabanne dress she wore in Two for the Road. She referred to is as the most uncomfortable thing she’d ever worn, and that it was impossible to sit in it.
On the right is a late 1960s dress by Norman Norell. Even though this dress was ready-to-wear, the beads and sequins were each sewn on by hand, taking about 250 hours to bead one dress.
I felt like this Geoffrey Beene dress from 1994 was the star of the metallics section. It’s hard to compete with a dress named “Mercury” that truly lives up to its name. I hope future generations remember the Beene name.
I say that because so many in the tour I was in had never heard of the designer of this gown, Anne Fogarty. Now I don’t really put Fogarty in the same category as Beene, but she did play a big role in keeping the big skirt with crinoline look alive throughout the 1950s.
I wanted you to see just how lovely that metallic lace is.
At this point I felt like the whole structure of the exhibition of design elements, sort of fell apart. This was a mini-section of black and white, and while I was puzzled at its inclusion, I was also delighted by it. How can one not love a classic Chanel suit sandwiched between a skeleton ensemble of 2011 by Bernhard Willhelm and a 2018 coat (yes, this is one piece) by Rei Kawakubo. The unexpectedness of this display made it all the more relevant.
And then there were hats! This Bes-Ben hat, circa 1965, was the subject of much subject speculation. I’m pretty sure it is a rooster, but others saw more exotic birds.
By Stephen Jones, this hat was based on the London Tube (subway) map. 2008
Here we were treated to the mistress of draping, Madame Gres. This dress, circa 1981, is truly about the back, but I would have really loved a peek at the front as well.
And like any good fashion show, this one ended with wedding dresses. This circa 1959 gown was designed by Pierre Balmain.
Every fashionable bride in 1968 should have worn a dress like this one from American designer Gustave Tassell. Unfortuanately that was not, if my own recollections of late 60s wedding can be trusted, the case.
And finally, because this is Philadelphia, we have some of the wedding ensemble of Grace Kelly, who married in 1956. On the left is her copy of – not the Bible, as I expected – but of Bride’s Manuel: A Manuel of Catholic Devotion with Mass for the Marriage Ceremony and the Nuptial Blessing.
The cap which anchored her veil was designed by Helen Rose and was made by the costume department at MGM. The shoes were from David Evins. Princess Grace donated these items to the Philadelphia Museum of Art, along with her dress, which is, according to the docent, too fragile to mount and display. That’s a pity because many of the visitors were looking for the dress.
And there you have it. If you are going to be in the Philadelphia area anytime this fall or winter, treat yourself to an afternoon of Fabulous Fashion.