Monday, November 13, 2006

Somewhere Over the ‘Rainbow’


1960's Dresses by Pierre Cardin & Textile by Zandra Rhodes

The relationship between color and fashion is the premise behind “She’s Like a Rainbow: Colors in Fashion” a new exhibit at the Museum of FIT which opened Saturday, November 11, 2006 and runs through May 5th, 2007 (www.fitnyc.edu). The evening event was well attended with over 200 guests sipping cocktails and viewing the exhibition. Some familiar faces in the crowd were Isabel Dupre the Style Director of Elle and Freddy Leiba the fashion stylist.

It was organized by Dr. Valerie Steele, Museum Director, together with Patricia Mears, Research Curator, Fred Dennis, Associate Curator of Costume; Harumi Hotta, Textile Educational Associate, and Clare Sauro. An earlier version of this exhibit was presented at The Rodin Gallery in Seoul, Korea in 2005, in conjunction with the Samsung Art and Design Institute (SADI). Sponsors of the current exhibiton are Elle and Redkin.

There are approximately 250 pieces of clothing, accessories, and textiles, some of which were effectively and artistically used as wall hangings to complement the fashion that date from the 1700’s up to the present. They speak volumes about the ongoing history, symbolism, psychology, and cultural implications inherent in the relationship between color and fashion. The mix of non-label and quite recognizable designer labels also helps back up that old adage (so popular and so relevant in fashion): “The more things change, the more they stay the same”.


Brocade Yellow & Red Suit and Green Dress: Charles James; Red Dress: Galanos; Black Dress: Balenciaga

While the word ‘color’ may conjure up vibrant shades and primary colors, the term also applies to subtle and quiet shades (as in navy, gray, brown, white, or black); all of which were given equal time. And unsurprisingly, at the opening reception held on Friday evening, the majority of those guests in attendance hardly resembled that proverbial “rainbow”, since more often than not, they were clad in fashion’s favorite hue: black. When ‘color’ was seen, it was an accent, or shot of red, often used in combination with black.


Dr. Valerie Steele

This was exemplified by Dr Valerie Steele, who donned a “blood red” matte jersey Comme de Garcons dress paired with a sculptural cropped black bolero by Isabel Toledo. Coincidentally, the designer’s lacquer red long taffeta dress (1994) was the first outfit in the reception room, and for optimum visual effect, (and to illustrate the idea of bold COLOR), it was displayed alongside a parrot green satin Oscar de la Renta coatdress (1984), an orange Courreges short wool crepe dress (1967), and a Dior chrome yellow long silk crepe shirtdress (1971).

Just a note, Dr. Steele may have personally chosen black and red as her attire for the evening, but she admits to being “obsessed with pink” in all its shades (“I think they’re so interesting”).

-Marilyn Kirschner

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