The Met right now has a special exhibition from the Costume Institute and the Brooklyn Museum called “American Woman: Fashioning a National Identity,” which of COURSE I’m conceptually, ecstatically losing my shit over. Let’s just quote their press release for moment:
"It will explore developing perceptions of the modern American woman from 1890 to 1940 and how they have affected the way American women are seen today. Focusing on archetypes of American femininity through dress, the exhibition will reveal how the American woman initiated style revolutions that mirrored her social, political, and sexual emancipation. "
Oh, HELL YES. Though that description is (of course) a little exaggeratedly positive and optimistic, pretty much anything involving old dresses and phrases like “archetypes of American femininity” is going to get me going. Here’s their lil’ video of the exhibit:
While I haven’t had the chance to make it uptown to see it yet, I hiked out to the Brooklyn Museum (where the Met borrowed the dresses from) with my mother today and got to check out an extension of the exhibit - ”American High Style" - a collection of 85 or so pieces meant to re-introduce the BK Museum’s couture and costume collection after years in storage. While it’s a little heavy, as expected, on the couture end of things (too many evening gowns! not enough day dresses! not everyone was rich and partying, goddamnit!) it was beautiful and well worth the trip.
Pix after the jump — excuse the sub-par quality. I WAS BEING STEALTHY with a point’n’shoot.
I’m kind of a sucker for heavy-handed obvious art history references in fashion editorials, especially Victorian ones, and especially ones involving sassy-looking vampy women and iconic paintings of them as opposed to another goddamned drowned-but-disturbingly-sexually-posed Ophelia floating in a swamp looking underaged and very, very dead.
Thus: Benny Horne’s photographs of Tasha Tilberg for The Block’s Spring 2010 issue in an editorial called “Madame X.” (Like, it’s a John Singer Sargent reference, guys!!!) I love that only one photo is obvious — the white-skin-dark-background contrast, the black dress, the twisting pose showing off an hourglass figure, the undone teased hair — but the rest of the ed still obviously channels that whole distressed-haughty-American-expat-trying-too-hard-to-be-a-French-socialite thing.