This week Rate the Dress is all about innovation: a very modern outfit, inspired by very modern art, paired with something I’ve never done in Rate the Dress before: the same ensemble from two different museums.
Last week: A harlequin print 1820s dress
Some of you found last week’s red & yellow 1820s number as much a harbinger of joy as I did, but not everyone was convinced. Some of you, in fact, found it a source of vexation – you couldn’t get on board with the mix of grainlines, and the seemingly arbitrary tucked seams. And others just hated the fabric and silhouette.
The Total: 6.6 out of 10
This week: A cubist inspired Gilbert Adrian evening ensemble
This week’s Rate the Dress pick is a 1945 Gilbert Adrian evening ensemble from his Modern Museum Collection.
In addition to fabulous costumes for Hollywood movies, Adrian designed glamorous ready-to-wear outfits – often with a very theatrical twist.
Because Adrian’s outfits were ready-to-wear, they existed in multiples, and copies of some of his most famous designs are held in more than one museum collection. This Cubist inspired ensemble was displayed when he received the third annual American Fashion Critics Award in February 1945, and I can show you examples of it from both the Metropolitan Museum of Art, and the Los Angeles County Museum of Art.
The Met says of the ensemble:
With a palette inspired by Cubism, Adrian extended the abstractions of his earlier designs of the 1940s. Harper’s Bazaar described this series as, “intricate as a puzzle and as modern as Picasso.” Exploiting the dynamism of the Futurists and the geometric minimalism of the Constructivists, the interconnecting cell-like shapes reflect an abstract bimorphism. Adrian, however, eschewed the utopianism of the Futurist and Constructivist movements with a design philosophy that was firmly grounded in the realities of American life.
From a less artistic perspective the ensemble gives a nod to current affairs, with motifs that reflect camouflage (bringing fashion, art, and camouflage full circle, as the first modern wartime camouflage, Dazzle, was partly created by cubist artists, and would inspire its own fashion), and fabric piecing that could be emulated by a thrifty and ambitious seamstress who needed to ‘make do and mend’.
This was definitely not a dress for the conservative or classic dresser, but for a bold and imaginative woman, would it have been a striking an inspired choice, or a fashion miss?
Rate the Dress on a Scale of 1 to 10
A reminder about rating — feel free to be critical if you don’t like a thing, but make sure that your comments aren’t actually insulting to those who do like a garment. Our different tastes are what make Rate the Dress so interesting, but it’s no fun when a comment implies that anyone who doesn’t agree with it, or who would wear a garment, is crazy/totally lacking in taste.
(as usual, nothing more complicated than a .5. I also hugely appreciate it if you only do one rating, and set it on a line at the very end of your comment, so I can find it! Thanks in advance!)