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Posts Tagged ‘American fashion designers’

That’s always the challenge. You have to bring it back so that a person can walk down the street and not look like she walked out of a costume epic or a time machine. It’s got to fit how people are dressing today. 

Anna Sui, American Fashion designer.

I found this quote while viewing The World of Anna Sui, a fashion exhibit at the Museum of Arts and Design in Manhattan. She was speaking about the influence vintage fashion has on her designs.

 

 

 

“I guess I’m known for for Bohemian Fashion …” says Sui. Here are some of her vintage inspired looks included in the exhibition. She has made these designs modern by styling with layers, boots and chunky accessories. Each outfit is worn unexpectedly. Photo courtesy of The Museum of Arts and Design.

 

Originally from Detroit, Sui knew when she was four years old that she wanted to be a fashion designer. To pursue her dream, as a young adult she moved to New York City to attend Parsons School of Design. Since then Sui has developed a unique voice, inspired by everything from history to rock and roll to fairy tales. She says storytelling is important to her in every collection and accessories are key to her overall style – hats, big jewelry, belts, and handbags. The more, the bigger, the better. Color and pattern, too. Sui loves it all!

I’d say her work is busy but fascinating in that there is so much to look at in any one outfit. Of course I’m drawn to her vintage inspired pieces and I agree that vintage has to be made modern to avoid looking like a costume. I really like how Sui does it.

The World of Anna Sui is on now through February 23, 2020 at The Museum of Arts and Design, 2 Columbus Circle, NYC. I highly recommend this exhibit to anyone in or visiting NYC.

 

 

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Gloria Vanderbilt and her jeans, mid-1970s. 

All art, from the paintings on the walls of cave dwellers to art created today, is autobiographical because it comes from the secret place in the soul where imagination resides. 

Gloria Vanderbilt (1924-2019), American heiress, designer, author, artist.

The great-great-granddaughter of a railroad magnate, Gloria was an only child and very wealthy. Her father died when she was just a baby and her mother left her with nannies while she traveled the world spending her daughter’s money. Gloria’s aunt sued for custody and the press thrived on that for weeks, calling the 10-year old, “a poor little rich girl.” That attention sealed her fate as a non-Hollywood celebrity. After her aunt won custody of Gloria, the two lived together in a New York City mansion.

Fast forward to three marriages and many creative endeavors including model, artist, author, poet, and what she might be best known for –  fashion designer, specifically women’s jeans. In the 1970s a clothing manufacturer signed Gloria to market their jeans, which were specifically cut for women’s figures. Hers was the first “designer jean” complete with the Vanderbilt signature on the back rear pocket. The deal was a big success and grew into Gloria Vanderbilt Apparel Corporation, which was eventually sold to the Jones Apparel Group in 2002.

Any American woman alive in the 1970s probably sported a pair of Gloria Vanderbilt jeans.

RIP, Gloria.

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Fashions by Mainbocher.

While visiting Chicago last month I took the opportunity to view the exhibition Making Mainbocher: The First American Couturier at the Chicago History Museum.

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A young Mainbocher.

Main Rousseau Bocher (1890-1976) was Chicago born and raised but as a young man he set off for adventure, first to New York City and later to Paris. He sported many hats before becoming a couturier, including an opera singer and a fashion illustrator for Harper’s Bazaar.

Quite spontaneously in 1929 he opened his first fashion house in Paris calling it Mainbocher – pronounced mon-bo-shay. For that touch of French chic he blended his first and last names. Known for his embellished ball gowns and smart suits, he soon became the go-to designer for socialites and celebrities of the time. American Wallis Simpson donned a Mainbocher piece for her wedding to Edward VIII in 1937.

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Butterfly evening dress in silk crepe, 1945.

In 1940, the early days of WWII,  Mainbocher decided to close his Paris house and reopen in NYC. There he established himself as the first American couturier, attracting the attentions of the elite chic. Additionally he designed for Broadway plays and was commissioned by the American military to design uniforms for the women’s voluntary services.

And all this is just a brief overview! Making Mainbocher: The First American Couturier follows the designer’s diverse career in detail and features 30 garments from the museum’s permanent collection as well as illustrations, photos, and audio interviews with some of his clients back in the day.

Located in a smallish gallery, this exhibit is just the right size allowing for a second and third walk around and a good gander at some of the fashions on display.

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Uniform for women’s voluntary services, WWII.

Making Mainbocher: The First American Couturier is on now through August 2017 at the Chicago History Museum. Any fashion enthusiast in the area should check it out!

 

 

 

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