Fabulous Fashion: From Dior's New Look to Now

16 October 2018–3 March 2019

Exhibition Overview

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Issey Miyake, Woman's Flying Saucer Dress, 1994.

Over seven decades of style will be displayed in Fabulous Fashion: From Dior’s New Look to Now, a major exhibition highlighting creativity and glamour. The haute couture and ready-to-wear garments and accessories on view range in date from 1947 – the year of the introduction of Christian Dior’s revolutionary “New Look” – to recent ensembles by audacious designer Bernhard Willhelm. Featuring some of the most significant and visually compelling works from the Museum’s renowned collection of costumes and textiles, Fabulous Fashion presents many new acquisitions and other outstanding works, exhibited rarely if ever before.

Timothy Rub, The George D. Widener Director and Chief Executive Officer, said: “Few museums have such extraordinary range and depth in their collection of costumes and textiles as the Philadelphia Museum of Art. As we continue to work on our Facilities Master Plan, which will result in much more gallery space to display the richness of our holdings in this field, Fabulous Fashion will serve as a reminder of the strength of our collection and all that we have to offer to those who value the extraordinary history of costumes and textiles as much as we do.”

Fabulous Fashion includes such iconic works as Adrian’s 1947 velvet “winged victory” gown, an understated black and white 1972 Chanel suit, and Geoffrey Beene’s 1994 silver lamé “Mercury” dress. Radical design is exemplified by Paco Rabanne’s dress made of plastic discs linked by metal rings (from his 1966 collection entitled “Twelve Unwearable Dresses in Contemporary Materials”) and a punk-inspired ensemble by Zandra Rhodes from her 1977-78 “Conceptual Chic” collection.

Focusing on fashion as an art form, the exhibition is arranged thematically to explore designers’ creative use of color and pattern, shape and volume, draping, metallics, bridal traditions and innovations, and exquisite embellishments. Works will be grouped together to offer striking visual comparisons and demonstrate the relentlessly creative spirit of fashion

(Image courtesy of Philadelphia Museum of Art)

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