College of Design

Goldstein Museum of Design

May 12, 2015

Object of the Week: 1970s Mark-Making and Modernist design


Photo Illustration by Abbey Kleinert.
Source photo by Carol Highsmith, 1946, Library of Congress

This pin by Philip Morton, who taught at the University of Minnesota's Art Department and exhibited at the Walker Art Center, reflects his study of the contemporary art and design of his time - the modernist movement. The pin's form leaves interpretation to the viewer - reminiscent of calligraphic strokes, abstract art, or even graffiti, which was booming during the 1970s when this pin was created. Bauhaus-inspired in essentials, its form is partially a result of its function. The pin's accordion shape ingeniously expands and contracts to open and close its hinged bar.


Pin, 1970-1979
sterling wire
Gift of Mathilda V. Schwalbach

Posted by Goldstein Museum of Design at 9:58 AM | | Comments (0)

May 8, 2015

Happy Birthday Arnold Scaasi


Arnold Scaasi is a Canadian born designer who is not known for his understated and reserved designs. On the contrary, Scaasi's bold use of texture, shine, and pattern exemplifies a spirited resistance to the Calvin Klein-ization of American fashion that took hold during the late 1980s and into the 1990s. His interest in fashion is said to have been ignited in his youth by an Australian aunt who was something of a style maven. After studying design in Paris, Scaasi came to the United States to work with fashion legend Charles James. Over the years he established his own legendary status, famously outfitting many notables including Barbara Streisand who wore his transparent pantsuit to the 1968 Academy Awards when she won the best actress Oscar for Funny Girl.


The Goldstein is fortunate to have a number of Scaasi ensembles, including this tiered piece from the 1980s. The fabric is expertly manipulated to stand out and ripple with controlled ease, playing with body form and silhouette.

Tiered cocktail dress, 1980-1989
black tulle with machine embroidery pattern
Gift of Mr. and Mrs. Miles (Shirley) Fiterman

Some might not see echoes of Charles James in Scaasi's work; after all, James is revered for elegance, sophistication and expertise. Despite Scaasi's flamboyant tendencies, he clearly learned much from his tutelage with James as his designs routinely blend drama with advanced construction techniques. Happy Birthday Arnold Scaasi.

Asymmetrical gown, 1980-1989
pink silk satin with discharge print
Gift of Arnold Scaasi

Red strapless gown, 1980-1989
sequins and tulle
Gift of Arnold Scaasi

Floral jumpsuit, 1980-1989
silk crepe with screenprint
Gift of Arnold Scaasi

Posted by Goldstein Museum of Design at 1:27 PM | | Comments (0)

May 4, 2015

Mothers and Daughters

Children's clothing seems to slide along a continuum from miniature version adult dress to completely separate fashions. For example, during the first half of the 18th century children's dress mirrored that of adults - which was very ornate and structured. As the century progress, their dress became simpler and less restrictive. This shift was influenced by philosopher Jean-Jacques Rousseau's writing on child rearing, which specifically addresses the clothing worn by children. In Emile, or On Education (1962), Rousseau argued that children should wear "the plainest, most comfortable clothes" (quoted by Tortora & Eubank, 2005, pp. 247). This suggestion is reflected in the white muslin dresses worn by children during the latter half of the 1700s - a stark contrast to the still elaborate fashion worn by both men and women during this period.

One of the most extreme examples of the "identical fashions" end of this continuum is the mother-daughter outfits of the post-WWII era. These matching fashions accompanied starkly divided gender roles following the war - with women being pushed back into the home to make room in the workplace for returning GIs. Tortora and Eubank (2005) note that, "one is tempted to see in these styles a reflection of the emphasis on family togetherness that was characteristic of the United States in the 1950s" (p. 451). These outfits also reinforced gender difference and expectations that young girls follow in their mother's domestic footsteps.

Vogue Mother Daughter Ad May, 1960.jpg
"Cinderella Dresses" advertisement in Vogue (May, 1960).

The above advertisement in Vogue from May, 1960 captures this trend and indicates it persisting presence into the following decade. It features a mother in a plaid, sleeveless sundress and her two daughters in almost identical dresses (save for the shorter hemlines). The copy reads "for the girl who is all girls...Cinderella dresses." Interestingly, the maid-turned-princess was also featured in both an animated Disney film (1950) and a made-for-TV Rodgers and Hammerstein musical featuring Julie Andrew's (1957) during the post-WWII era. The ad's reference to the floor-sweeping, ball-gown-wearing maiden is interesting and reflects the period's idealization of the homemaker and housewife.

The Goldstein Museum of Design has its own pair of coordinating dresses (below) from the 1950s made by "Lanz," an Austrian folkwear-inspired clothing line. The company began in Salzburg Austria in 1922 and later established itself in California during the 1940s.

Mother and child dresses by Lanz, 1950, printed cotton and pique, gift of Shannon Murphy Pulver (1977.020.008a and 1977.020.008b).

With their puffed sleeves and dirndl skirts, these coordinating red and white floral dresses were arguably intended to encourage the kind of visual maternal bond noted. Thinking about the history surrounding mother-daughter outfits highlights how they are more than just matching clothes. This also serves as a reminder of how dress can function as a looking glass to contemporary culture.

Bramlett, L. (n.d.) Lanz. In Vintage fashion guild. Retrieved from:
Cinderella Dresses [Advertisement]. (May, 1960). In Vogue, 135 (9).
Tortora, P. & Eubank, K. (2005). Survey of Historic Costume. New York, NY: Fairchild Publications.

Posted by Goldstein Museum of Design at 11:38 AM | | Comments (0)

April 27, 2015

Springtime Florals from Lilly Pulitzer

As the saying goes - April showers bring May flowers. The bright ensembles below are the work of American designer Lilly Pulitzer (1931-2013). Their floral prints reflect the designer's colorful aesthetic. Pulitzer designed the cotton shifts - the "Lilly" - with her own needs in mind. Legend has it that in the late 1950s Pulitzer - then a Palm Beach socialite and the wife of an orange grove owner - created the printed dresses to hide orange juice stains.

Orange floral shift dress, Lilly Pulitzer, 1965-1969, Gift of Sybil Roberts Seay (2001.014.008a-b)

Other women began requesting their own. The dresses were a favorite amongst many notable women, including Jackie Kennedy. The designer and the first lady had been classmates. Pulitzer's brand took of when Kennedy was photographed in one of the designer's simple shift dresses on a vacation in Hyannis Port, MA in 1962. The first lady was a very notable influence on 1960s fashion - also inciting trends like the pillbox hat. Undoubtedly influenced by its inclusion in the first lady's wearing, Pulitzer's designer was highly successful into the early 1980s.

The Goldstein Museum of Design has a number of Pulitzer's dresses in their collection. These simple shift dresses were by no means innovative. However, as Richard Martin (1997), long-time Curator of Costume at the MET, points out, "the barren non-design of the "Lilly" was its allure."

Teal floral shift dress, Lilly Pulitzer, Lilly Pulitzer,1965-1969, Gift of Sybil Roberts Seay (2001.014.003)

Multi-colored floral shift dress, Lilly Pulitzer, 1960-1969, Gift of Margot Siegel (1978.020.005)

After a nine year hiatus, Pulitzer's brand was relaunched in 1993. The designer has had a much less influential role in the new company, acting as a creative consultant. However, the fun, colorful aesthetic established by the Florida socialite back in the 1950s has persisted. Pulitzer died in 2013; however, her iconic prints recently experienced another revival. In April, 2015 the brand paired with Target to release the Lilly Pulitzer collection - which includes everything from beauty products, to beach towels, to bikinis and, of course, a number of simple shift dresses in a variety of colorful prints.

Stegemeyer, A. (1998). Lilly Pulitzer. In Who's who in fashion. New York, NY: Fairchild Publications.

Posted by Goldstein Museum of Design at 11:31 AM | | Comments (0)

April 6, 2015

Object of the Week: Underwater Creature or Above-water Couture?


Her approach to fashion inspiration ensured her hat would be one-of-a-kind.

Image inspired by the underwater photographic work "Silver Springs Fish Hook" by Bruce Mozert
Imagery used for educational purposes only.

Posted by Goldstein Museum of Design at 2:48 PM | | Comments (0)



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