As featured in ARTNews April 2013 issue the Vatican plans to better preserve the great works of the Sistine Chapel. Years of grit, grime, dust and carbon dioxide takes its toil on the precious works housed within. How to solve the problem of harmful particles? Install a new air conditioning system, a 330 foot carpet to remove dirt from underfoot, plus an additional measure to be employed…suction fans! The suction fans will do just that, extract dust and fibers from clothing. Sounds like a machine the Jetson’s would use.
Once again it’s spring, and spring means summer dresses! Indeed, I know that many of you are in draping labs working on term garments of this sort, even as I type.
During the last dozen or so years of her life, the designer Pauline Trigere came every spring to FIT, to give a lecture on draping in Katie Murphy Auditorium. While she draped a coat collar in double-faced wool, she would talk about her life in the industry. She related that when she began, a friend advised her not to panic, but to begin small. That all she needed to get into her first stores was “four good dresses”. So she designed four dresses, sold them, and began her long career.
Here is one of her great dresses, with its matching coat. Dated 1964, this ensemble is featured in the Museum at FIT exhibition catalog “American Beauty”. The graphic quality of this outfit is absolutely stunning, and still as fresh as though it came down this season’s runway.
My experience designing sportswear makes me approach each new season much the same way I used to when I worked at it: flip through countless magazines looking for images to feed my head, make bulletin boards of inspiring images, organized by themes, sketch out the pieces to make those themes happen, and then sketch technical flats to work out the cutting and fitting details as they evolve in my head. This being the library at FIT, I have awesome resources to get inspiration for summer dresses. This post is about some of the sources I found this week that helped me sketch up far more than just four good dress ideas.
I have lots of delicious magazines to choose from. So I flipped through a few to share.
I started with the Tobe Report, which is industry fashion research. I found some great images from their coverage of street fashion in St. Tropez last spring (=forecasting for this spring):
That’s a cute dress, but it’s been pretty done here, already, I think. Seems to me I saw a version from the Gap which was almost these exactly, including the “bra-friendly” wider straps.
Flipping through “2013 Hot List” issue, I found this interesting update, also from Tobe:
Food for thought, this one. Since “Fit & Flare” is pretty much where my 1950′s-loving-eye always ends up for summer, that advice is easy to take. Anyway, Tobe produces a “Hot List” for every season, and it’s worth taking a look to get their (sales-driven) point of view.
As I continued my periodical-flipping, I came across this fabulous placement print by (of course) Prada, photographed for Another Magazine. Definitely a shirt-type dress, though. And pencil, not flared skirt. Hmm.
Form fitting seems to dominate the dresses I found in The Gentlewoman, too:
Of course Beyonce has a certain professional imperative driving her both sartorial choices and her self presentation. But the magazine stylist must have had something to do with this choice. Interesting that the strong linear quality of this dress echos the Trigere dress above, even if the shape is very different.
But overall, this magazine, UK’s The Gentlewoman, is very stylized in it’s visual presentation. Most of the layouts had a very sleek black and white noir-ish feel. I had a hard time finding a color image to attract your eyes, Reader.
But here’s a fabulous one. The movement of the silk georgette and the buttons up the back are romantic, while the color and styling are straight out sexy. Not surprisingly, it’s by Valentino, the Italian designer who’s famous for his use of red in evening gowns. Coupled with the Prada dress pictured above, the red might signal a coming theme…
Even though this dress is really dressy, there are still some good ideas that can be applied to a comfortable summer dress. Perhaps the sheer overlayer that buttons would be pretty down the front, or diagonally down the side of a dress. And the color is divine!
As I continued to flip through magazines and news papers in our department, the daily issue of Womens Wear came in. And lo, it had a fabulous dress on the cover:
Not red here, but still the strong graphic qualities of the Trigere ensemble. Plus an interesting use of a new dress material: neoprene.
Then, because I am planning to sew, I thought it would be worthwhile to flip through Threads magazine and see what’s cooking over there. Threads is an old sewing/crafty title that had gotten a bit stuffy. However, recently it’s been revamped and it seems a lot more fashionable. Still pretty middle-America (as opposed to Brooklyn), but definitely more responsive to the younger-spirited DIY action that’s been growing the last five years or so.
And then I stumbled onto this: Not only does this layout have a super cool steampunkish feeling, but careful reading revealed that the artist whose work is shown is one Mimi Prober, AN FIT FASHION DESIGN GRADUATE! (Issue 166, May 2013) Mimi won the 2012 Critic Award for these gowns, and no wonder! The construction techniques put together antique lace into corsetted-looking sheer layers. The whole effect is both elegant, artsy, and comic-book-heroine-fabulous! I want this dress! And now I know how the layers are constructed, and the lace stitched together. This is a bit much for a summer dress to wear to evenings out at the Frying Pan, but it does have me rethinking lace insets a bit… Good job on the update, Threads!
But look where else edgy romantic dresses show up:
Lana Bittman (the librarian who runs PERS) always talks about Sassy magazine being her growing-up printed companion, so I thought I’d take a peek. I just randomly pulled out a volume from the 1990s, since all the designers researching here are currently obsessed with this decade. This layout from the April, 1993 issue spotlights lacy, gauzy, romantic white dresses for summer! This is very much what’s happening here in the city, (again) I’d say.
Finally, I picked up the current issue of Vogue Patterns, the sales magazine for the Vogue Pattern company. I’ve always had a soft spot for this magazine, even though it had gotten sort of dry. I enjoy having access to it to see the styling of the new season’s sewing patterns. Plus, Vogue patterns have better instructions than Butterick, their less-expensive sister company.
I’m really excited to say that Vogue has also stepped up their game. The last two issues of this magazine are much more colorful, styled more modishly and modern-looking. Plus this issue highlighted serious couture finishing techniques like creative smocking and passementerie flowers, with a spot on the best sewing tools for fine handwork. There was also a well-researched and illustrated article on embroidery, a topic near and dear to my heart (as you may have guessed).
Like Threads, the new Vogue Patterns included good how-to articles on special techniques by such industry leaders as Nancy Zieman and Claire Shaeffer. Like Threads, it included a wrap-up of current runway styles and the patterns that relate to them. But Vogue Patterns seems aimed at a more upscale designer/stitcher, and the articles looked more fashion-forward than Threads.
And even better, there was an article on the founder of Marfy Patterns, which is also a title we carry at the Gladys Marcus Library.
I found it heartening to see that the red theme I saw in Another Magazine and The Gentlewoman was carried through in this project on Vogue Patterns‘ pages.Maybe I just liked it better because Vogue Patterns felt more “New York” to me, and this is where I live and work.
I hope you found something to inspire your own summer creativity in this post. Once again, I encourage you to stop up at the Periodicals Desk on the 6th floor, and take a look at our great resources.
Here are some places you can find out more about Pauline Trigere:
On the 4th floor, at the Reference Desk, her work is discussed in:
American Beauty: Aesthetics and Innovation in Fashion
Ref Desk Section A TT 505 .M43 2012
Impact: 50 Years of the Council of Fashion Designers of America
Art Reference TT 504.4 .M43 2012
Women of Fashion: Twentieth-Century Designers.
Art Reference and 5th Floor, Main stacks at TT 504 .S74 1991
At the Circulation Desk on the 5th floor, we have:
Videos of Ms. Trigere’s lectures at FIT filed under TT 505 .C55 and the date.
We also have a video of an oral history interview with Ms. Trigere filed under D 16.14 .O73 1980. To request these video formats, you would give the call number I’ve listed to the clerk at the 5th floor service desk.
We also have Designer Files for Ms. Trigere’s work. These are found at the 5th floor desk, filed by the designer’s name.
The perfect American Male (answering the Gibson Girl, of course), an illustrator able to capture the moment of the new American sportswear, the growth of the ad campaign, and gay subculture…
Submitted for your delectation:
Thank you, J. C. Leyendecker!
A few months ago, Dumbarton Oaks announced the new online exhibit of the Nicholas V. Artamonoff Collection, available via their website. This will provide scholars access to documentary images from archaeological digs from 1935-1945. This is not especially exciting. Such types of projects are always being announced on email lists. Many such are in work.
But the images…
Dumbarton Oaks is a house, a museum, and an organization, dedicated to the study of the Byzantine Empire, pre-Columbian South America, and landscape studies:
These images, photographed on archaeological digs in Istanbul, Ephesus, Hieropolis, and other sites in western Turkey, create a relationship with ruined stone, ancient carvers, and modern viewers.
While the purpose of this photography was the documentation of archaeological exploration of Byzantine architectural remains, the images have a vibrance that belies this static goal.
Elaborate carvings of a glittering world (ancient Rome and Byzantium) lie in pieces on the ground, with real foliage growing across their stylized carved foliage. The camera caught these contrasts in shades of gray and black and lighter gray, shedding light on fragments of the past for us to experience them, 75/1000 years later and many cultures between us.
The internet, of course, has made it possible for us to share photographs as easily as making a phone call or filling out a form. But when these images were captured, photography required large, heavy cameras, expensive equipment, and long exposures.
But the photographs.
I began working my way through the images. These were from a group of about 500 photos from archaeological digs undertaken by Dumbarton Oaks. The sites are of interest to scholars of the late-antique and early-middle ages. There is a lot of rubble, sand and dust captured by these photos.
Yet there is also dignity, reverence for the past, and an openness to sharing information that makes the effort on the part of this particular website so refreshing.
And the images are stunning. The quality of the black and white film makes them seem as though ruined rock and shifting sand are velvet and damask.
I wanted to share these photographs with our FIT family because the archive is beautifully shot. Here are pieces of grand buildings, built to glorify humankind’s most dramatic empires. They repeatedly survived world strife, pain and greed; yet they have a velvetty black and white abstraction which makes them look “Modern”. I hope you will find these images as inspiring as I have.
Here in New York City, spring has been slow to appear. Bryant Park finally has pansies and daffodils, but it’s still been cold and blustery most of the month. We thought some embroidered spring flowers would help coax the real ones from their warm ground.
The English have a history of being passionate gardeners. Gardening was considered mankind’s expression of the Garden of Eden, worked on a personal scale in his or her garden plot. In early seventeenth-century England, when this picture of a garden was embroidered, there was a fashion for embroidering flowers on clothing, especially women’s jackets, men’s and women’s caps. Home furnishings, such as cushions, curtains, bed valences, wall hangings also received this allover floral decoration.
This spectacular example of these embroidered jackets belongs to the Costume Institute atthe Metropolitan Museum of Art. The embroidery stitch-work on this is especially fine and it must have been made to fit a tiny body. Not only were the English interested in all kinds of flowers (note how carefully this lily is colored), but often the embroideries included birds, bugs, and caterpillars too.
The depiction of naturalistic flowers and bugs were an expansion of the tendency toward scientific observation which developed during this time. The earliest microscopes were invented in the Netherlands, in the 1590s. This passion for the close observation of nature began much earlier, though. Books depicting plants and animals were popular throughout the sixteenth century.
Engravings of flowers and bugs were published in pattern books called “Miscellanies”, which included images for lace and embroidery, painting, decorative plaster, or wallpaper. This is a page from an edition of Richard Shorleyker’s “Schole-house for the Needle”, which was published in 1632.
Here is a man’s nightcap, also from the Metropolitan Museum of Art’s collection, embroidered with birds, butterflies, and other flowers of the sort printed in these miscellanies.
Here is another example, from a different cap, of the Early Bird catching his breakfast.
Sometimes the plants were embroidered on plain-weave linen, then cut out and applied onto richer ground fabrics, often as decorative hangings or cushion covers. These were called “slips”. This branch of pear tree is one of these that hasn’t been applied to any other cloth yet. This slip is on a larger sampler of needlework in the collection of the Victoria and Albert Museum in London.
For other applications, the fine silks could be embroidered directly on a plain linen ground fabric even for bedcovers or hangings, as are this lovely primrose and iris. These flowers are details from a cushion cover in the collection of the Metropolitan Museum of Art.
Sometimes flowers like this were embroidered onto sheets and towels as decorative borders. Trailing vine patterns like these were often included in girl’s educational samplers as well.
Finally, this desire for intricately worked flowery objects led to some very interesting beaded objects, like this one, also from the collection of the Metropolitan Museum of Art.
These images were all taken from the exhibition catalog
“‘Twixt Art and Nature”: English Embroidery from the Metropolitan Museum of Art 1580-1700 “,
which can be found in both the Art Reference stacks and the 5th floor stacks at
NK 9243 .A1 W37 2008.