Fashion designers have a long history of using a myriad of innovative approaches to manipulate and transform the female body — be it by padding hips, cinching waists, or subverting the notion of what constitutes an ideal female body altogether.
At the Indianapolis Museum of Art, an exhibition now on seeks to explore how various designers were considered avant garde in their own ways, drawing from new acquisitions it has painstakingly made since 2006.
Take Rudi Gernreich, who revolutionized how American fashion was being designed in the 1950s.
“Many American designers were copying Parisian clothing after the war. But while the likes of Christian Dior were creating corsets, Rudi was creating corset-free garments, like the monokini swimsuit and the “no-bra” bra,” says Niloo Paydar, curator of textile and fashion arts at the IMA. “His bathing suit was so early for someone in the 1950s, but now you see that cut-out design everywhere in contemporary swimsuits.”
Or Yves Saint Laurent, who in the 1960s turned a safari tunic into a luxury sportswear item, and made pants acceptable as evening wear.
They are just two designers featured in the Cutting Edge Fashion: Recent Acquisitions exhibition, which displays more than 60 groundbreaking garments from other creators such as Alexander McQueen, Christian Lacroix, Gianni Versace, Issey Miyake, Jean Paul Gaultier, and Vivienne Westwood — icons who all challenged traditional styles whether they were creating glamorous evening gowns or punk rock-inspired street wear.