The room is just about pitch black, but as your eyes adjust, shocking plays of color come into focus. Dress after dress, alive in hues of neon orange and vivid turquoise, deep amethyst and the rubiest of garnet. Laid in color fields, they're profusely pleated, knife-sharp, like so much origami, and formed into sumptuous roses and abundant accordion folds.
These are the works of a "boy wonder," a post-New Look genius who took the forms populated by Christian Dior and made them his own. They are the singular objects crafted by Italian fashion designer Roberto Capucci.
At first, Capucci drew inspiration from nature, with masterful creations like "Nova Gonne" or Nine Skirts, a dress formed of concentric circles reminiscent of the movement of water as it's disturbed by a tossed stone. Just a few years later, though, in the swinging '60s, the designer turned to materials like bamboo and straw and peebles, seeing wonderful possibilities in adorning fabric.
Some of these works are bizarre, not beautiful, and ultimately Capucci's one-of-a-kind pieces became more abstract and sculptural. Indee,d some were not even meant to be worn. By the 21st-century, this designer — now 81-years-old— was indulging in works that skewed more to the curious, almost the scientific. By removing the constraints inherent in designing for the female form (those arms, those hips, those breasts!), Capucci has given himself a pass.
For this viewer, this endlessly imaginative artist reached his peak in the '80s and '90s. It was then, already leaning toward dress-as-sculpure- that he created his most fabulously folded and colored works. These voluptuous items are the most swoon-worthy, the most "Capucci" of the works on hand — and the most artful.For more information please visit: The Philadelphia Museum of Art