1960 - 2010

Impossible Fashion: Avant-Garde Fashion at the Museo del Traje

Museo del Traje. CIPE

Explore the fascinating dichotomy between what can and cannot be done in fashion with some of the most important designers of the last half century.

Impossible Fashion
The exhibition focuses on the most innovative fashion creations of the last half century present in the Museum's own collections.  During the central decades of the twentieth century, the definitive emergence of modernity, both in creation and in social life, was forged. From then on began a time of revolutions and counterrevolutions, of conceptual art and anti-artistic expressions, of extreme individualism and cultural movements of all bias, which marked a before and after also in the development of fashion.

Although the last two decades of the century were characterized by a greater conservatism that determined a "call to order," we can observe, in the creative field, the assumption of a conceptual and formal freedom that is reflected in the work of a good number of artists.

In this way, although the last avant-gardes were historically depleted in the 1970s, we can find many proposals that continue to delve into the most transgressing aspects of fashion. The aim of the exhibition is to convey the idea of ​​the creative avant-garde as a motor of Change and renewal of aesthetic criteria through the Museum's contemporary fashion collections.

Final Home
Kosuke Tsumura, 1997

Materials
A garment’s design, comfort, and even functionality are largely dependent on the materials used to make it. In addition to natural fibers, numerous chemical fibers emerged during the 20th century: rayon, acetate, nylon, polyester, and elastane—all of which feature in this exhibition.

Dress
Rei Kawakubo, 1991


Rei Kawakubo, creator of Comme des Garçons, almost always manages to give her designs a strong visual impact with their architectural lines and metallic hues.

Dress
Walter Van Beirendonck, 1990

Dress made of PET, a type of plastic widely used in drinks containers and textiles. This dress is a nod to the disposable professional garments made from this material.

Collage Dress
Paco Rabanne, 1970

In 1965, Paco Rabanne, discovered a material called Rhodoid (a cellulose acetate plastic). Sheets of this material were used to make this dress.

Slacks
Mariuccia Mandelli (Krizia), 1983

From the 1970s, Krizia—an historic designer of the most avant-garde Italian fashion—worked with unconventional materials such as rubber, cork, and eel skin (which is the material of these pants). These materials were used so daringly that it earned her the name “Crazy Krizia.”

Jacket
Mariuccia Mandelli (Krizia), 1982

The metallic gold and copper tones of this jacket by Krizia are highly original. This garment has quite an androgynous shape except for the large curvilinear sleeves that give it a feminine touch. Nylon and polyester fabrics make it very lightweight.

Color
Daring, abstract prints in psychedelic colors come onto the scene; unusual and sometimes discordant combinations imbued with kitsch and Pop Art style. Metallic glints—previously a trait of haute couture—were revived by the younger generation, who wove them with elastane to produce the “black” disco look of the 1980s.

Dress
Valentino, 1965

Faithful to his style, here Valentino produces an elegant look with perfect pattern design and sheer silk bambula which make it into a moving rainbow. Both the choice of colors and the way in which they are grouped together evoke designs from India—unthinkable in the West.

Dress
Emiliano Pucci, 1970

Elastic fibers and original prints became a trademark of Emilio Pucci from the 1950s. His perspective on fashion reveals his connection to the world of sport.

Shirt
Missoni, 1971

The zigzag pattern is one of Missoni label’s most distinguishing features. It was first used on their garments in 1962, when they began to use the Raschel Capae machine, which could handle those designs.

Slacks
Missoni, 1971

The special way of working the stitch and using so much color meant garments had to have simple, straight lines to avoid distortion, as shown in these pants.

Structure
While design functionality became more important, a whole multitude of designs evolved to extravagance. Maximalist fashion with impossible volumes, patterns given over to virtuosity, asymmetry, new proportions, deconstruction, radical minimalism and decorative elements that were ultimately constructive... an endless quest that produced the most innovative of patterns.

Dress
Marimekko, 1963

The miniskirt came into fashion in the 1960s and became one of the century’s most iconic garments. The radical simplification of lines engineered by young designers such as Marimekko led the way towards a structural minimalism.

Dress
Comme des Garçons, 1983

Preferring basic materials and a color palette that rarely strayed from plain black, Comme des Garçons offered a new interpretation of how to dress in the 1980s. Volume evolved free from all conventionalism.

Dress
Yamamoto, 1989

Behind the apparent simplicity of this dress, Yamamoto conceals a deep reflection. Although the composition is dominated by asymmetry, it is not obvious in the overall look.

Message
Playing freely with the meaning of clothing has become a unique characteristic of contemporary fashion. Meaning becomes ambiguous and spawns new levels of elitism: fashion codes are created among sections of young people that only they accept and understand. Designers have drawn inspiration from this for their more explicit designs, where the written word, symbols, pop icons, and artistic and political concepts fuse with clothing.

Slacks
Kansai Yamamoto, 1985

The amazing color of the Kabuki aesthetic in Yamamoto’s garments produces a hybrid of traditional Japanese culture and Anglo-Saxon pop culture that has an openly humorous message.

Dress
The Scott Paper Company, 1967

Paper dresses enjoyed dazzling but fleeting success at the end of the 1960s. The Souper Dress was one such example and certainly the most famous paper dress of the time. A blend of fashion and pop art, it portrays Andy Warhol’s famous soup can.

Coat
Agatha Ruiz de la Prada, 1982

Since her early career in the 1980s, Ágatha chose a fashion that really made a statement. Explosive in its color, it broke with formality and was littered with allusions to elements that had relatively little to do with the clothing itself.

Jacket
Moschino, 1994


Moschino Couture jacket. The tailored suit becomes a puzzle in his hands. He revives it to give it a provocative, even edgy, air. It is up to the onlooker to to interpret its message.

An elegant, feminine skirt offset by its provocative message.

Fashion à la Carte
This section includes a brief illustration of the three most significant trends that fashion has drawn from the street. Le Look, Vintage and DIY (“Do It Yourself”) reflect behaviors that, at some point, emerged as a personal choice and have been absorbed and reimagined by the fashion world over time. Designers and consumers come together in aesthetic unity to continue taking creative dressing one step further, in a constant to and fro of feedback and perpetual motion—a metaphor for our fractured and impersonal times.

Top
Domenico Dolce and Stefano Gabbana, 1998

Expansion of the concept of multi-branding and the repositioning of prêt-à-porter design broadened the scope for creating an individual look. Designers understood the need to offer separate garments to put together in an individual look. Image: a top designed by Dolce&Gabbana.

Skirt
Yves Saint Laurent, 1990

The Saint Laurent Rive Gauche skirt combines with the Dolce&Gabbana body to create a personalized look to appeal to those customers most intent on creating their own, individual outfit.

Dress
Ossie Clark, 1971

Ossie Clark dress from 1971, which was reproduced by La Maison Martín Margiela in 1995 in the vintage, retro style. A contemporary trend designed to de-mystify the past and revisit earlier forms.

Dress
Paco Rabanne, 1966

Rhodoid and steel dress from 1966 by Paco Rabanne. Light, gold-colored discs that are assembled with steel rings create a dress that the wearer could put together at home themselves.

Museo del Traje
Credits: Story

Impossible Fashion: Avant-Garde Fashion at the Museo del Traje

Curator: Juan Gutierrez
Scientific Advisor: Lucina Llorente

Museo del Traje

Credits: All media
The story featured may in some cases have been created by an independent third party and may not always represent the views of the institutions, listed below, who have supplied the content.
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