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April 2020 Events: Indoor Fashion Inspiration

So, you’re sheltering in place this month, huh? Don’t worry, there are plenty of things you can do to keep feeling upbeat and inspired. Here are just a few things with tons of fashion inspiration to tide you over:

Beautiful books

Photo by Mike Yamin

The House of Worth 1858-1954: The Birth of Haute Couture (Thames and Hudson, 2017) was compiled by four authors, including Charles Frederick Worth’s great-great granddaughter, Chantal Trubert-Tollu. This 321-page tome is a mix of history and breathtaking photos of garments from the entirety of the house’s lifetime.

Photo by Mike Yamin

Creating Couture Embellishment (Lawrence King Publishing, 2017) by Ellen W. Miller contains inspiration and instruction in spades. Ellen, a former instructor at Boston’s School of Fashion Design and a theater costumer, takes the reader through more than 160 techniques and ideas behind couture embellishment, including ruffles and flounces, pleating, fringe, hand embroidery, and bead and sequin applications. Even if you don’t have a project planned right now, you can have fun experimenting with the many techniques included in this beautifully illustrated book.

Photo by Mike Yamin

Fashion 150: 150 years/150 designers (Laurence King Publishing, 2016), edited by Arianna Piazza covers extensive ground in fashion history as stylishly as the subject matter deserves. The images are gorgeous and varied. Readers are treated to spectacular fashion shots, sketches, detail photos, and vintage ads. Luscious full-page images are interspersed with pages providing designer biographies.

Photo by Mike Yamin

In Search of the World’s Finest Wools (Firefly Books, 2016) tells the story of the farmers who produce exotic cashmere, pashmina, and wool following traditional techniques. With intimate stories and striking pictures, Dominic Dormeuil and Jean-Baptiste Rabouan introduce readers to the intriguing origins of wool.

Photo by Mike Yamin

English Medieval Embroidery: Opus Anglicanum (Yale University Press, 2016) was compiled by a team of textile experts to accompany an exhibition at the Victoria and Albert Museum in London. This book is a celebration of the workmanship, beauty, and value of fine handiwork worn by those of wealth and status during the Middle Ages.


Motivational movies

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Black Panther (2018)

Many of the costumes and fashion, designed by Ruth E. Carter, are inspired by different African aesthetics and traditional garb. The result is a movie that features garments that are wholly unlike what Americans expect to see. These designs earned Carter an Academy Award in 2019. The impact of these costumes on modern clothing, especially menswear, since the movie was released has been impressive. The costumes reflected the four words Carter posted on her vision board as she worked on the movie: beautiful, positive, forward, colorful.

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Crazy Rich Asians (2018)

Set against the backdrop of Singapore high society, the fashion in this movie is stunning. Equal parts modern and avant-garde, there are nuggets of traditional aesthetics that made the garments fascinating.

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Little Women (2019)

In Civil War America, four sisters strive to find their way in the world. The costumes, by Academy Award winner Jacqueline Durran, are beautifully designed. They range from stunning ballgowns to casual daywear. Though the period’s aesthetics differ greatly from those today, they can serve as an inspiration for modern garments. Durran has talked in The New Yorker about how she worked with authentic period style to express each character’s personality and character arc.

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Marie Antoinette (2006)

Set at the height of French opulence before the Revolution, this movie features period-inspired costumes that are gorgeous, over-the-top, and almost cake-like in their pastel-colored decadence. Milena Canonero, also an Academy Award winner for costume design, acknowledges the influence of modern fashion icons and brands, such as Manolo Blahnik, as inspirations. Period costumers and casual sewers alike will be energized to up their embellishment game when they see these gowns.

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Ocean’s Eight (2018)

With the main action occurring at the Met Gala, you can be sure there are some truly fabulous costumes in this movie. Every one of the leading ladies is dressed to impress. Designer Sarah Edwards made a point of giving each character her own style, so you’re likely to find designs to excite you among the many looks shown.

Virtual museums

Kent State University Museum, home of an impressive collection of period costume, offers an online gallery of fashion from the 18th through 2oth centuries, in which you can search for specific articles or allow the site to choose an item at random for your viewing pleasure.

The Victoria and Albert Museum in London shares an online collection of more than just textiles and garments. Find vintage fashion plates, antique dolls, and much more.

Tunic by Maria Luck-Szanto, 1960s. Hand-knitted cotton and rayon, with glass beading. Image courtesy of the Victoria and Albert Museum.

National Women’s History Museum has an online exhibit titled Fashioning Yourself!, which explores the history of home sewing through the 1800s to modern times.

The Kyoto Costume Institute in Japan has much of its collection available online, including garments from the 1700s through the 2000s. There are also shoes and accessories displayed in beautiful photographs. Many of the images include accompanying information about the garment or sewing practices at the time.

Dress (robe à la française), c.1750-55, England. ©The Kyoto Costume Institute, photo by Takashi Hatakeyama

The Museum at the Fashion Institute of Technology (FIT) has an online collection that is organized by date and also includes categories for accessories, lingerie, and menswear. Their garments are beautifully arranged and photographed and are accompanied by information about the garment and its maker, if that information is available.

We invite you to share with us what you are reading and watching for fashion inspiration these days.



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