Women for Women: Female Fashion Designers
The Textiles and Clothing Museum, 1015 Morrill Hall
August 24-December 18, 2015
Vera Wang. Stella McCartney. Laura Ashley. Diane Von Furstenberg. Garments from celebrity and lesser-known female fashion designers are on display in the Mary Alice Gallery in conjunction with CPAM’s (Re)discovering S(h)elves exhibit. Similar to the way women artists work in paint, paper, fiber, clay, and glass, female fashion designers define themselves using cloth and thread. Women designers express their aesthetic sensibilities through the selection of the colors, lines, shapes, and textures incorporated into the silhouettes they create. In addition to the visual and textural appeal, designers consider the needs and desires of their consumers in order to provide apparel that satisfies physical requirements and societal expectations. These benefits include protection from inclement weather, practical designs for the workplace, structural components allowing for comfort and fit in active and leisure wear, as well as the glitz and glamour desired for special occasions.
With these benefits in mind, one might ask, “Do female fashion designers understand what is required of women’s apparel better than men?” Women designers do have the advantage of acting as their own fit models and critics, but that’s not always enough to ensure success. While many women designers built recognizable brands around their names, other designers haven’t always received the same recognition as their male counterparts. Female designers, patternmakers, stylists, and merchandisers were instrumental in building the ready-to-wear industry, but often remained unknown. Employed by large apparel manufacturers, these women labored without receiving individual credit for their work. While designers like Vera Wang achieved celebrity status due to their fashion lines, other equally important designers including Jo Copeland, Claire McCardell, Tina Leser, and Pauline Trigère are lesser-known to the public. With the intention of bringing these and other names to the forefront, the works of many of the female fashion designers from the Textiles and Clothing Museum’s collection are celebrated.
Curated by Janet Fitzpatrick and Becky Lensch