Sunday, July 10, 2005
This month for the first time, RWA NYC held a summer outing instead of a chapter meeting. Where did we go? The museum at FIT. For those of you who don't know it, FIT stands for the Fashion Institute of Technology, one of the foremost schools in the country for fashion and design.
The museum exhibit was Fashions of the 1940's. I loved this exhibit but then I love clothes, particularly vintage and the 1940's and 1950's are a great period particularly if you have a curvy body. Back then it was all about the curves.
I swear sometimes I think I'm living in the wrong era. I love the sun dresses, and what they called coffee dresses from the forties and the fifties. Back in the days when women wore hats and gloves to just go grocery shopping, and men wore suits to go to baseball games. Everyone was well-dressed and well-groomed. Of course, you had to get up at 6 in the morning to get ready for the day, and have a standing hair appointment on a weekly basis. My mother, even in her sixties, still put on her make-up even if she was just going to the bodega on the corner.
Look at the colors in the dresses on the left. Valentino could have designed either of those dresses. I could even see some young actress in Hollywood wearing the one-shouldered number.
What's amazing about the clothes in the forties is how well they were constructed. Even the clothes that you would buy at Montgomery Ward or from Sears were all made in the U.S. by skilled workers. You just don't see that any more. Now clothes are made overseas by poor people in Honduras or in Korea or Taiwan so that we can buy a T-shirt at H&M or Old Navy for $9. Sigh!
The forties was also the decade that American designers finally came into their own. Before the war, Paris dictated what people wore in England and the United States, but with the war on, fashion designers had to rely on their own imagination and ingenuity. It was the rise of American sportswear designers like Claire McCardell and Bonnie Cashin.
I'm telling you, you looked at some of the sportswear in this exhibit, and you can just see Ralph Lauren and Tommy Hilfiger taking notes (or sending their interns to do it). They say everything old is new again, well some of the platform shoes that were in the exhibit, I swear I just saw at Nine West.
And the fashion photography back then? Gorgeous, gorgeous. None of the crap you see them do on ANTM. Beautiful girls wearing beautiful clothes. If I ever won the lottery, the first thing I would do is start collecting fashion photographs from the 40's and 50's. Also, designer Barbies.