Breaking the Mode: Contemporary Fashion from the Los Angeles County Museum of Art
March 16-June 1, 2008
Highlighting more than 100 examples of contemporary fashionable dress, “Breaking the Mode: Contemporary Fashion from the Los Angeles County Museum of Art,” examines the work of approximately fifty international designers who have challenged the traditional rules and conventions established by venerable European fashion houses.
Curated by LACMA’s Sharon S. Takeda and Kaye D. Spilker, Breaking the Mode illustrates how designers of the 1980s and 1990s rebelled against the principles that ruled 1950s high fashion. It examines radical ideas introduced in four areas of contemporary fashion: construction, materials, form, and concepts. Breaking the Mode opens at the Indianapolis Museum of Art on March 16, 2008, and remains on view through June 1, 2008. The exhibition features designers Azzedine Alaïa, Hussein Chalayan, James Galanos, Rei Kawakubo, Christian Lacroix, Hervé Léger, Martin Margiela, Alexander McQueen, Issey Miyake, Franco Moschino, Thierry Mugler, Junya Watanabe, Vivienne Westwood, and Yohji Yamamoto, among many others.
“This exhibition contains great examples of contemporary fashion. It shows the revolution that has happened in the fashion world over the past 25 years. Hopefully, this exhibition will open people’s eyes to see fashion as an art form and to bring another level to the understanding of contemporary art,” said Niloo Paydar, the IMA’s curator of textile and fashion arts.
Throughout history as the ideal body and silhouette have changed, the clothes have changed as well. During the first half of the 20th century, an hourglass figure was most coveted, and designers like Christian Dior used construction techniques such as cutting, layering, boning, and stitching to give a rigid form, and a narrow waistline to the garment. Decades later, designers such as Jean Paul Gaultier and Hussein Chalayan redefined beauty in silhouette and technique as new breed of fashion pioneers.
Advancements in textile technology were essential to this fashion revolution. Rather than relying solely on tailoring techniques, designers could create dimensional garment shapes utilizing synthetic fibers and innovative processing methods. No longer did they create garments to shape the contours of the body. Instead, the body would give shape to the dress, while still other clothes would be independent of the body’s form all together. This next generation of garments included Azzedine Alaïa’s Butterfly Dress (1984), made of fabric that molds to the individual wearer’s body, and Issey Miyake’s dramatic Pao Coat (1995), created from heat-and-pressure-set pleated polyester.
In addition to exploring modern technology, contemporary designers pushed the conceptual limits behind their creations by referencing historical fashion or creating fashion as art. Vivienne Westwood’s Mini-Crini collection from the 1980s was inspired by petticoats of the nineteenth century, while Christopher Bailey’s Cropped Trenchcoat (2003) for Burberry, Martin Margiela’s Dissolving Trenchcoat (2006), and Junya Watanabe’s Modified Trenchcoat Jacket and Skirt (2006) for Comme de Garçons all referenced the officer coats of World War I. Other designers illustrate the blurring lines between fashion and art, such as Issey Miyake, Jean-Charles de Castelbajac, and installation artist Andrea Zittel.
The design of clothing—for protection, profession, or spectacle—has shifted dramatically throughout the past 25 years. Breaking the Mode presents those designers who were at the forefront of this movement—those who introduced subversive elements into the system, examined and deconstructed its entrenched conventions, and changed the rules about what is aesthetically pleasing and fashionable.
Breaking the Mode admission is $12 for adults (ages 18-64); $6 for children (ages 7-17) and college students; $10 for seniors (65+) and groups of 10 or more. The exhibition is free for children six and under and for all school groups booked through the IMA Education Division. The Indianapolis Museum of Art’s permanent collection galleries and Lilly House are free.
For more information please visit: The Indianapolis Museum of Art