by Jean McElvain, Assistant Curator at the Goldstein Museum of Design
The 2014 senior apparel lines presented at the Align Fashion Show on the 15th of February were serious and smart as they strode through the courtyard of Rapson Hall. With an array of whites, blacks, grays, and beiges, even the most devout modernist likely craved a bit of color by evening's end. But the diversity of lines brought a riot of smart styles that explored gender-bending, tradition, and futurism. As someone who is constantly looking back at the history of fashion through my work with the Goldstein Museum of Design's collection, I saw hints of past styles while viewing the work of these emerging designers. The likenesses between them are arguable, but I was inspired to explore precedents for a few of my favorites.
The calm romanticism of Karen Fiegen's wedding gown had traces of a mid-1950s Adele Simpson evening dress. The white dress is, of course, much more demure than its strident black counterpoint.
left: Gown by Karen Fiegen. Photo by Rod Hasse.
right: 1984.047.009 Adele Simpson, 1950-1955, Goldstein Museum of Design Collection, Gift of Mrs. Elmer L. Andersen.
Jessa Manthe's toothy gray coat immediately reminded me of 1970s coat by Donald Brooks. While the style lines are dissimilar, Manthe's emphasis on materiality and quirk echoed Brooks' surprising diamond-pattern of raccoon fur.
left: Coat by Jessa Manthe. Photo by Rod Hasse.
right: 1988.022.001 Donald Brooks, 1970, Goldstein Museum of Design Collection, Gift of Annette Neff.
The brooding nature of Paul Erling's dress evoked a 1980s silhouette with de-emphasis on the female form. Erling's dress "out-drama's" its Zandra Rhodes comparison, but both have a sneak-peek element that keeps us visually re-visiting the garment over and over.
left: Dress by Paul Erling. Photo by Rod Hasse.
right: 1992.035.008-3 Zandra Rhodes, 1980-1989, Goldstein Museum of Design Collection, Gift of Mr. and Mrs. Miles (Shirley) Fiterman.
The crisp lines and blocked use of black and white of this ensemble by Thanh Nguyen elicits a 1980s vibe, complete with a tight turned collar and office-chic attitude.
left: By Thanh Nguyen Photo by Rod Hasse.
right: 1992.035.019 Chanel, 1975-85, Goldstein Museum of Design Collection, Gift of Mr. and Mrs. Miles (Shirley) Fiterman.
Kayna Hobbs' jacket, with its asymmetry and highly constructed angles, immediately reminded me of Thierry Mugler's work from the 1980s. Both handle complexity, rigidity, and femininity with aplomb.
left: Jacket by Kayna Hobbs. Photo by Rod Hasse.
right: 2005.001.020-1Thierry Mugler, 1990-1995, Goldstein Museum of Design Collection, Gift of Emily Willard.
Align: The Exhibition will be on display in the GMD's HGA Gallery through May 4, 2014.
Visit http://goldstein.design.umn.edu/exhibitions/ for more information.