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Inspiration

American designers and their extraordinary techniques

Halston, American Beauty Rose gown in red silk organza, 1980. Gift of Ms. Chris Royer.

There are designers today who do not know how to sew, and I’ve always wondered how a person could ever become a great designer without that knowledge. It’s the same with any craft. My husband once worked with an architect who had never been involved DOING construction. He designed beautiful signage for a new building, and the sign was to be 50 inches by 100 inches. A sheet of plywood (the inner core for this type of signage) is 4 feet by 8 feet or 48 inches by 96 inches. Nothing was gained by the extra 2 inches in width and extra 4 inches in length, except to considerably increase the cost to produce it and make construction of the sign a nightmare, requiring wood pieces to be joined to make them large enough. Thankfully, the architect was a reasonable man, and altered his dimensions when the situation was pointed out to him. He simply didn’t have practical experience in construction.

The Fashion Institute of Technology in New York City (FIT) presents a free exhibit (American Beauty: Aesthetics and Innovation in Fashion) that features designers who actually utilize the craft of dressmaking to create beautiful garments and other wearable items, which for me makes these designers even more exciting. According to the Museum, “This focus on construction further illustrates that each designer’s method of attaining innovative shapes and forms could only have come about because craft was the central focus of the creative process.” 

The exhibit includes fashion from the past 100 years of American history and includes many dressmaking disciplines such as draping, geometric forms, tailoring and rigid construction. The diversity of clothing styles range from casual to formal to give incredible variety to the garments on display. The exhibit will be open through April 10, 2010.

If you are unable to visit this wonderful exhibit, you’ll want to consider the purchase of the companion book, American Beauty: Aesthetics and Innovation in Fashion, published  by Yale University Press. Proceeds from the sale of the book will go to the Museum. The Museum at FIT is the only museum in New York City dedicated solely to the art of fashion. When you’re in New York, it’s worth a visit to see their latest exhibit, even if you have to go out of your way to get there.

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  1. obsessive_sewer | | #1

    Thank you so much for this article. I am headed to New York this weekend for a visit with friends, and I'm definitely going make time to see this exhibition!

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