updated: 2/24/2012 12:48:15 PM
The Indiana Museum of Art is planning to highlight the work of Hoosier fashion designers. The exhibition will feature four designers, covering more than 50 years in the industry. The museum says it will include an evening gown for former first lady Nancy Reagan and a dress based on Andy Warhol's 'flowers" paintings.
February 24, 2012
INDIANAPOLIS, IN, February 23, 2011—An American Legacy: Norell, Blass, Halston & Sprouse at the Indianapolis Museum of Art highlights the achievements of celebrated fashion designers Norman Norell, Bill Blass, Stephen Sprouse and Halston, all of whom hailed from Indiana. Spanning more than 50 years of fashion history, the exhibition presents the work of four innovative designers, their individual styles and lasting influence on American fashion. Featuring some of the most outstanding garments from the Indianapolis Museum of Art’s fashion arts collection, An American Legacy will be on view from May 4, 2012, to January 27, 2013.
Adhering to individual creative philosophies, these designers produced bodies of work that contributed significantly to the universal definition of American style. An American Legacy, the first group exhibition devoted to these prolific designers, traces their careers and offers a fresh look at their work, which ranges in date from the 1940s to the late 20th century.
“Norell, Blass, Halston and Sprouse influenced not only American fashion, but international style,” said Niloo Paydar, curator of fashion and textile arts. “The pieces in An American Legacy were selected to represent the unique style of each designer, highlighting their individual artistic approaches and philosophies of decorating the human body.”
The exhibition features more than 50 garments drawn from the IMA’s comprehensive collection, augmented with major loans from the archives of Stephen Sprouse. Established in 1973 with the donation of five pieces from the estate of Norman Norell, the IMA’s American fashion design collection now comprises more than 500 pieces from Norell, Blass and Halston alone.
Among the highlights of the exhibition are a Bill Blass evening gown created for the former first lady Nancy Reagan, a Norman Norell day dress worn by American actress Betty Furness while on camera during the 1960 Presidential convention, a 1972 evening dress designed by Halston based on Andy Warhol’s ‘flowers’ paintings, and a Sprouse designed Warhol-inspired camouflage dress popularized by rock star Debbie Harry. Organized by the IMA, An American Legacy will be on view in the museum’s Gerald & Dorit Paul Textile and Fashion Arts galleries.
About the Designers
Norman Norell (1900–1972), was born and raised in Noblesville, Indiana. One of the first American designers whose name appeared on a label, Norell was known for making clean, precisely tailored clothes with superb workmanship. In 1943 he received the first of five Coty American Fashion Critics’ Awards. In 1956, the same year Parsons presented him its Medal for Distinguished Achievement, he was inducted into the Coty Hall of Fame. Norell died in October 1972, the night before the opening of a retrospective of his work at New York’s Metropolitan Museum of Art.
Bill Blass (1922–2002) was born in Fort Wayne, Indiana. In 1959 he became the head designer of Maurice Rentner. In 1970, Blass bought the company and renamed it Bill Blass Limited. For the next three decades the brand became synonymous with elegant sportswear and glamorous clothes executed in luxurious materials. Best known for his tailoring and innovative combinations of textures and patterns, he is the recipient of many fashion awards, including seven Coty Awards and the Fashion Institute of Technology’s Lifetime Achievement Award.
Halston (1932–1990) was born Roy Halston Frowick in Des Moines, Iowa, and raised in Evansville, Indiana. Halston attended Indiana University before moving to Chicago. After moving to New York in 1959, he joined Lily Dache as her hat designer and manager. He went on to Bergdorf Goodman and created the internationally famous pillbox hat popularized by Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis. He won his first Special Coty Award in 1962 for innovations in millinery and the second for his fashion collection. When Halston won his third Coty in 1971, his long halter dresses and beaded garments had become enormously popular in both North America and Europe. In 1974, Halston was elected to the Coty Hall of Fame.
Stephen Sprouse (1953–2004) was born in Ohio and raised in Columbus, Indiana. His career began in the late 1970s, while working for Halston and evolved while styling iconic rock star, Debbie Harry for performances with the band Blondie. A key figure in 1980s downtown New York culture, Sprouse became one of the first designers to introduce raw, unapologetic, street style to the high fashion world. Influenced by the dynamic mediums of punk rock, graffiti and street fashion, Sprouse’s unique aesthetic continues to influence contemporary fashion designers today.
Fashion and Textile Arts at the IMA
The IMA’s collection of textile and fashion arts began with the acquisition of an Irish embroidery in 1888. Today, the collection comprises approximately 7,000 items and represents virtually all of the world’s traditions in fabric.
Among the objects from Asia are textiles and costumes from China, kimonos and Buddhist robes and furnishings from Japan, Kashmir shawls, ceremonial hangings from India and a large group of textiles from Indonesia. West and Central Asian holdings include rugs and kilims from Iran, Ottoman embroideries from Turkey, and costumes and ceremonial textiles from Turkmenistan and Uzbekistan. In 1996, the late Colonel Jeff W. Boucher’s collection of 65 Baluchi rugs and weavings was donated to the Museum. Later, this collection was augmented by 11 pieces, making it the largest and most comprehensive in the United States.
The IMA also houses a significant African textile arts collection, with a particular concentration in rugs, costumes and embroideries from Morocco. European holdings feature silks from the late 16th to 19th centuries, a lace collection spanning 500 years and a large group of 19th-century paisley shawls woven in England. Also represented are European fashions dating from the late 18th to the 20th centuries, as well as couture by prominent designers such as Dior, Balenciaga, Chanel, Gaultier and Versace. The North American textile collection features noteworthy Indiana quilts and coverlets, as well as fashions by designers Norman Norell, Bill Blass, Halston and Rudi Gernreich. Central American holdings include Guatemalan textiles and a significant collection of about 360 Panamanian Molas.
About the Indianapolis Museum of Art
Encompassing 152 acres of gardens and grounds, the Indianapolis Museum of Art is among the 10 largest encyclopedic art museums in the United States, and features significant collections of African, American, Asian, European and contemporary art, as well as a newly established collection of design arts. The IMA offers visitors an expansive view of arts and culture through its collection of more than 54,000 works of art that span 5,000 years of history from across the world’s continents. The collections include paintings, sculpture, furniture and design objects, prints, drawings and photographs, as well as textiles and costumes.
Additionally, art, design, and nature are featured at 100 Acres: The Virginia B. Fairbanks Art & Nature Park and Oldfields–Lilly House & Gardens, a historic Country Place Era estate on the IMA grounds. Beyond the Indianapolis campus, in May 2011 the IMA opened to the public Miller House and Garden in Columbus, Indiana. One of the country’s most highly regarded examples of mid-century Modernist residences, the Miller House was designed by Eero Saarinen, with interiors by Alexander Girard, and landscape design by Dan Kiley.
Recognizing the IMA’s positive impact on its community, the Museum was named a recipient of the 2009 National Medal for Museum and Library Services — the nation’s highest honor for museums and libraries. The IMA’s commitment to free general admission, programming for schools and teachers, environmental leadership and online initiatives were among cited community contributions in the Museum’s selection for the award.
Located at 4000 Michigan Road, the IMA is open Tuesday through Saturday, 11 a.m. to 5 p.m.; Thursday and Friday, 11 a.m. to 9 p.m.; and Sunday, noon to 5 p.m. Lilly House is open until 5 p.m. Tuesday through Sunday. The IMA is closed Mondays and Thanksgiving, Christmas and New Year’s days. For more information, call 317-923-1331 or visit www.imamuseum.org.
Source: Indiana Museum of Art