Last week I wrote about my visit to the Fairy Tale Fashion exhibit at the Museum at FIT (Fashion Institute of Technology). I also saw the other two current exhibits, The Women of Harper's Bazaar and Denim: Fashion's Frontier. While these didn't pique* my imagination as much as Fairy Tale Fashion, they were still well worth a visit.
The women mentioned in the title of the first exhibit were not the models, but the women in charge from 1936-1958: Carmel Snow (editor-in-chief, Diana Vreeland (fashion editor) and Louise Dahl-Wolfe (photographer). The story of their collaboration was fascinating and the photos are amazing! Anyone with an interest in fashion photography would certainly enjoy this exhibit. As far as inspiration, many of the garments shown in photos were elaborately pieced and constructed, which I feel is usually the forte of woven (not knitted) fabrics. But the above wool swimsuit by Claire McCardell (1946) caught my eye-- not for the beach, but I could see wearing a similar knit top right now, out and about; love the high wrapped neck combined with halter styling and narrow waist. And the photo below shows the December 1945 cover: it's a little hard to tell, but I believe the scarf is accented with a large pin. I immediately thought of doing a knitted cowl with a large beaded or textured motif front and center. When it comes to accessories, I think easy is good; rather than carefully wrapping a scarf around and around your neck, and then placing a pin just so, simply pull said embellished cowl over your head and you're done!
Denim: Fashion's Frontier explores the history of denim, from its beginnings in the early 1800s as a durable, utilitarian work fabric to its ubiquitous presence today, including its use by many fashion designers. The variable treatments of denim were quite remarkable, from baggy leisurewear of the 1930s to the familiar 70s and 80s hand-sewn patches and embroidery (remember those skirts made out of jeans?) to high fashion garments such as the corset (Jean Paul Gaultier, 1992) and the embroidered coat (Roberto Cavalli, 2003) pictured above and below. As far as inspiration, I found the corset construction intriguing (but where to go from there??), and as for the coat, I loved the placement of the flowers on the fronts, cuffs, collar and pocket flaps-- imagine replacing the embroidery with stranded colorwork or intarsia, or knitted lace.... I also found this exhibit interesting for two personal reasons: (1), I wear jeans almost daily (Levi's, mostly), and (2) knitting began in large part as a way to make the ultimate utilitarian garments! There is very little waste-- think of the cut scraps of a sewn garment compared to a few discarded yarn ends. Knitted clothing can be precisely shaped as it is made, yet knitted fabric is also stretchy and forgiving. And finally, parts of garments such as sock heels and sleeve cuffs can be repaired-- remade, really-- that is, re-knit so they are literally as good as new.
*not peaked! Sorry, pet peeve.