American Beauty: Aesthetics and Innovation in Fashion

Overview

This beautifully illustrated book is the first to examine the relationship between innovation and aesthetics as expressed by American couturiers and fashion designers from the late 1910s to the present day. The book, which accompanies a major exhibition at The Museum at the Fashion Institute of Technology, New York, reveals that great design and great style were consistent elements in the work of American’s best fashion designers.

Patricia Mears introduces many great forgotten ...

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Overview

This beautifully illustrated book is the first to examine the relationship between innovation and aesthetics as expressed by American couturiers and fashion designers from the late 1910s to the present day. The book, which accompanies a major exhibition at The Museum at the Fashion Institute of Technology, New York, reveals that great design and great style were consistent elements in the work of American’s best fashion designers.

Patricia Mears introduces many great forgotten figures, as well as many familiar names: work by lesser-known figures such as Jessie Franklin Turner, Ronaldus Shamask, and Charles Kleibecker is discussed alongside pieces by more celebrated creators, such as Halston and Charles James; work by designers of the past is juxtaposed with that of present-day designers such as Rick Owens, Yeolee Teng, and Maria Comejo. James’s grand and structurally imposing gowns from the 1950s appear alongside contemporary Infantas by Ralph Rucci; the section on draping juxtaposes 1930s gowns by Elizabeth Hawes and Valentina with more contemporary garments by Jean Yu and Isabel Toledo; clothing cut into pure geometric shapes like circles, triangles, and rectangles is illustrated by World War I–era teagowns by Jessie Franklin Turner, Claire McCardell’s mid-century rompers garments, and modern sportswear by Yeohlee and Shamask.

While the United States may be best known worldwide for its casual mass-marketed garments, Mears demonstrates that artistry, innovation, and flawless construction are the true marks of American fashion.

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Editorial Reviews

Library Journal
In this oversized, lavishly illustrated publication—accompanying a major exhibition of the same name at the Museum of the Fashion Institute of Technology (MFIT) in New York this spring—Mears (deputy director, MFIT; Ralph Rucci) examines the relationship between aesthetics and innovation in American fashion from the late 1910s to the present and reveals that great style and design were consistent elements in many of the works by American fashion designers. Refuting the stereotypical notion that high fashion came solely from Europe, the author documents innovative clothing construction in the United States, thereby reassessing the importance of American fashion design. In a lengthy but easy-to-read and generously illustrated essay that encompasses the entire catalog, Mears showcases works by well-known and obscure American fashion designers. She highlights masterpieces by a select group of American fashion designers who have used the craft of dressmaking as a departure point for creating beautiful garments, including Bonnie Cashin, Maria Comejo, Claire McCardell, Rick Owens, Ralph Rucci, and Jessie Franklin Turner. VERDICT Reasonably well presented and sufficiently documented, this significant publication—the first of its kind—will appeal to general readers, students, scholars, and others.—Cheryl Ann Lajos, Free Lib. of Philadelphia
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780300155358
  • Publisher: Yale University Press
  • Publication date: 12/1/2009
  • Pages: 182
  • Product dimensions: 9.90 (w) x 12.80 (h) x 1.00 (d)

Meet the Author

Patricia Mears is deputy director of The Museum at the Fashion Institute of Technology. She is the author of Madame Grès: Sphinx of Fashion and coauthor of Ralph Rucci: The Art of Weightlessness.

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