Thursday, May 8, 2014

That's a Wrap! DVF's "Journey of a Dress"

Featuring her classic Wrap dress designs, Diane von Furstenberg’s "Journey of a Dress" exhibition, has travelled all over the world, Moscow in 2009, Sao Paolo in 2010, and Beijing in 2011.  And for its 40th anniversary celebration, the exhibit landed in the 20,000 square foot museum-transformed historic Wilshire May Co. department store building, adjacent to Los Angeles County Museum of Art (LACMA). 

Like a little kid in a candy store, it was truly amazing to see and learn more about the iconic Wrap dress that is now a huge part of fashion history.

My relaxed stroll became quick strides when I saw the “DVF 40 Journey of a Dress” sign in the former May Co. display window.

Welcomed by the brand's signature black and white chain link patterned floor covering, the pink-walled hallway with photo timeline, started with von Furstenberg’s very first editorial in 1970, with no other than Vogue, featuring an Erte print inspired wrap top and skirt.

Here’s a factoid:  The Wrap dress happened by accident in 1973.  It was first a little wrap top inspired by what ballerina’s wear, paired with a matching skirt, which von Furstenberg made into what we now call a Wrap dress.  This put DVF in the global fashion footprint.

The walk down memory lane chronicled DVF and the Wrap dress’ epic 40 years, including its appearances in Hollywood movies and red carpet events -- from 1976 when Cybil Shepherd wore the dress in Martin Scorsese’s film Taxi Driver and Newsweek cover that legitimized von Furstenberg’s signature look, to 2013 when costume designer Michael Wilkinson brought DVF 70’s glamour to American Hustle characters played by Amy Adams and Jennifer Lawrence.

More portraits of celebrities, models and dignitaries (Madonna, Amy Winehouse, Coca Rocha, Michelle Obama, etc.) dressed in DVF, lined the walls as a bright neon sign blared at a distance.  It read “Feel like a woman, wear a dress,” the very first advertisement tag line she coined in 1972. 

Fittingly displayed beneath the sign is a three-dimensional glass collage, made of multiple layers of glass incorporating hundreds of images and altogether shaped just like a floating wrap dress, created by New York based contemporary artist Dustin Yellin.

Do you know that Diane von Furtenberg sold 5 million Wrap dresses at the beginning of her career, between 1973 and 1976?  Fascinating four decades of history celebrated underneath one roof and I haven’t even left the hallway yet!

Past the gallery, in to the dress exhibit itself is a wall-to-wall familiar DVF colorful bold patterns…what a scene!

To witness a retrospective of 200 mannequins, modeled after von Furstenberg’s own face, in precise formation dressed in vintage, contemporary and anniversary pieces was truly magical!  With dresses from 1974 thru 2013, it was hard to tell which ones are old and which ones are new. From when it first retailed at Bloomingdales in the 70s to the time it was revived at Saks 5th Avenue in 1997, the designs, fabrics and patterns remained amazingly relevant and timeless. The innovation from a jersey knit to a jumpsuit wrap to a cocktail dress to an evening gown was impressive! And recently out this month… a romper wrap! The dresses were simple, yet figure flattering.  One historian described it as, something quick to put on and even quicker to take off!

The DVF wrap dress is a legacy of a strong woman, classic beauty, and femininity. It symbolizes women empowerment. A wrap dress continues to be a staple piece in every woman’s closet, proving that its creation was no accident.

I told myself before hand that I would select my top 3, however I loved them all and found it very challenging to pick only a few.  So let me share with you the ones that I spent the most time staring at.  And yes, each is from a different era...see if you can tell the difference.

I could have spent more time and taken more pictures, but for now..."that’s a wrap!" as the cliché goes, ending the exhibit in Los Angeles on May 1st. What’s next? Will the exhibition make it to Phoenix, we’ll see, we hope. The journey continues…

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