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American Beauty

I Photos courtesy of The Museum at the Fashion Institute of Technology, New York

By

Allison

f you haven’t visited American Beauty: Aesthetics and Innovation in Fashion, an exhibition being held at the Museum at FIT, it should be added to your agenda. The event is an enchanting display of America’s finest works of fashion. Masterfully selected and arranged by the Deputy Director of the museum, Patricia Mears, the pieces – 75 in total – illustrate America’s contributions to the world of fashion; they show a juxtaposition of old and new, classic and innovative. France and Italy are the countries that come to mind when thinking of pioneers in fashion, but this exhibition displays America’s own tremendous contributions. “If there were a single word to describe American fashion, it would be ‘functional’,” states an introductory plaque. American fashion undoubtedly found its roots with Europe (that is, more specifically France). Nevertheless, in their designs, Pauline Trigére and James Galanos displayed a fundamental element of American fashion – “ready-to-wear garments that fuse quality with accessibility” – which would help pave the way for a style all its own: the American style. This mix of “quality with accessibility” is seen with the “hybrid garment.” America took London’s masculine tradition of tailoring and melded it with the feminine, haute couture tradition of dressmaking, resulting in one its

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greatest contributions to the fashion world. The exhibition’s area for mitering, an innovative technique used by American designers to blend dressmaking and tailoring, particularly stood out due to its striking, geometric prints. Other sections not to be missed are the Geometries section – which displayed works by Maria Cornejo and Halston – and the Embellishment section, which illustrated the daringly avant-garde designs of Rodarte. Touring through the exhibition, certain looks such as the shimmering grey satin gown by Ralph Rucci, the boldly patterned cloqué dress and coat by Pauline Trigére, and the American Beauty Rose Dress – which coincidentally bears the same name as the exhibition – by Halston, are immediate eye-catchers. Also on display are pieces by one of the world’s best known tailors, Thom Browne, and film noir-esque women’s dress suits from the 1940s, designed by Gilbert Adrian. If the stunning visual display and accompanying informational plaques aren’t enough to satisfy your fashion palate, a video will be playing in the entrance room. The video – shot in black and white – presents comments by Patricia Mears and several of the featured 25 American designers being displayed in the exhibition, giving a miniature tour of the place. The video can be found on www.yoox.com/FIT. 3


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