The current fashion exhibit is “Modern Spirit – Fashion of the 1920s.” Where do I even begin to describe this incredible collection? The colors! Yes, the colors. Surprisingly subdued, the colors in the room were mostly earthtones. Rust, camel, salmon-peach, black, and ivory made up the majority. There were also a few dusky versions of jewel tones like jade and plum, and dark blue appeared once in evening wear and once in a suit. A brilliant scarlet red was the exception to all this restraint, and it stood out in several areas of the exhibit.
Although no photos were allowed in the museum, many of the exhibit pieces are from the Arizona Costume Institute, and these images are from their online gallery.
The textiles were utterly amazing. Each piece was dripping with embroidery, beading, ruffles, rhinestones, or sequins. Several of the dresses were covered with thousands of glass beads individually sewn onto silk tulle or lace. How does the fabric bear that weight? How does the garment survive 90 years?
|Three evening dresses by Gabrielle "Coco" Chanel. 1928, 1925, 1925.|
One of the most luxurious-looking effects was the voluminous, gathered and rolled velvet collars of the evening coats, which were shaped very much like the Poiret cocoon coat. Even the velvet was embellished with beads and embroidery, and in one case, fur.
|Folkwear Pattern 503, The Poiret Cocoon Coat. Source|
I could go on and on, but without photos, I feel I can’t really do justice to the other pieces.
I will leave you with the last one that I do have a picture of, which was the simplest design, and also my favorite. It’s a Vionnet, of red silk crepe chiffon. The narrow silver edging is a lamé binding. For the sewists reading this, can you imagine trying to stitch a long strip of lamé to a fluttery, tissue-thin expanse of silk, on the bias, without snagging, tearing, shifting, or even creating the tiniest hole?
|The epitome of elegance|
A history of Madeleine Vionnet and her design techniques that we still use today is here. Also, Coletterie did a nice writeup on Vionnet here.
I was very inspired by my visit. I won't be sewing up any 20s-style evening gowns, but it certainly boosted my creativity.
What has been your source of creative inspiration lately?
all photos from the Arizona Costume Institute, http://www.arizonacostumeinstitute.com/ACI/The_Collection.html