Modern Love: A Preview. Part deux. Thanks @BgoArtGallery and @FIDMMuseum

The Paper DressWait, what’s that? Is that a…?

The Paper Dress

Kevin: It’s a paper dress. With the New York skyline, circa 1999.

We’ve left the folds and creases as is because they emphasize the nature of the material used, its stiffness and solidity. I thought of it the last time I was in New York. Unless you’re facing the Empire State building or the Statue of liberty, the skyline looks almost like that of any other city..

The Paper Dress: Kevin Explains

There was a silence at this point which I attempted to fill with vague nattering about how the dress had shaped bust darts and not the cross-shaped ones I’d assumed it had, earlier.

Guys, I could insert some pithy comment here about how Fashion is a reflection of society/ the impermanence of everything in our culture etc but there’s really nothing to say. It’s art, it’s beautiful and it’s up for interpretation.

From a garment design perspective, this dress is fantastic. Think about it-no armholes and neckline edges to face (or bias bind). No hem to blind stitch. No zipper to insert.

It is what it is. Literally.

I love the shape. Simple, elegant, perfect for panel prints. And I love the shaped bust darts that fit the torso almost like truncated princess seams. And I love that it’s here. A tangible reminder of something lost but not forgotten.


Kevin Jones is the curator of the FIDM Museum’s extensive collection (15,000 pieces and counting). His area of expertise lies in the fashion and social history of the nineteenth and twentieth centuries, with emphasis on haute couture. Stop asking me if he’s single (seriously, I’ve no idea) and go watch his live talk, on this dress and others from the Modern Love Exhibition.
There’s a whole raft of other events connected to the exhibit (including a behind the scenes session with Bendigo Art Gallery curator Leanne Fitzgibbon, and a dress up party!) that you should check out, here.

More on Sarah Caplan here and an interesting ode to disposable dresses here.

Misc: the stockings, tights and shoes on the mannequins in the exhibit are either sourced vintage stock from the corresponding era or modern reproductions thereof. They complete the outfit as intended by the designer/ originally worn on the runway. For those of you wondering what the featured image is all about:

ShoesWe spotted this mannequin with mismatched shoes and found out the shoe on the right was recently acquired after a staff consensus vote against the shoe on the left. I agree wholeheartedly.

Big ups to the Bendigo Art Gallery and the FIDM Museum for allowing me to preview the exhibit and to Kevin and Leanne for walking me through everything. Thanks also to Carl for all the awesome photos.

 MPH (est 198)
 spring/summer 1999
 non-woven Tyvek Designer: Sarah Caplan New York
 FIDM Museum Purchase
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