The exhibition – An American Legacy: Norell, Blass, Halston, and Sprouse at the Indianapolis Museum of Art, highlights the work of innovative fashion designers Norman Norell, Bill Blass, Stephen Sprouse, and Halston. All 4 designers were from Indiana, and many of the works exhibited are from the museum’s comprehensive collection.
There are some beautiful examples of intriguing shaping in the cut of the fabric and construction of the garments. I was especially intrigued by Halston’s “dinosaur” jacket. The fabric extends from the end of the 3/4 length sleeve turning into a ruffle that travels back up the sleeve and across the neckline as one piece. From a distance, you expect the ruffle to be a separate piece from the sleeve, but up close you discover the lovely continuous flow of the single piece of fabric from the bodice to sleeve hem and back up again to the neckline.
Stephen Sprouse designs include an interesting variety of concepts for prints and surface design. Many of his designs reflect his interest in technology as a source of inspiration. The print for a 1989 jacket and shorts set was created from a Polaroid of a television color bar test pattern. Other prints came from punk band stickers he observed on the underside of skateboards, collected, cut apart, and rearranged.
There’s a wonderful 1988 tuxedo made of black silk velvet printed with a lime green allover linear pattern design by Keith Haring. A translucent 2 piece mini dress is decorated with horizontal rows of large oval ivory paillettes hung by small tabs that allow them to swing as the wearer walks or dances. Even on the still mannequins, his designs seem to move and ripple to the rhythm of rock music and colorful street life. Read more about the designs at Fashion Windows.
The newly renovated African Art galleries at IMA are well lit and allow close observation of design details and materials. I found a wealth of inspiration there such as Akan Royalty Crowns, beaded hats by the Yoruba people of Nigeria, masks by the Mende people of Sierra Leone, and alter heads such as “The Queen Mother” by the Edo people of the Benin Kingdom. See Ann Starr’s review for photos of the renovated exhibit.
©2012 Alice Frenz