Our Jessica is a big fan of designer Diane Von Furstenberg. Not only does she own a couple DVF's iconic wrap dresses (and she looks fabulous in them to boot), she was happy to discover that a recent visit to Los Angeles coincided with a special exhibition celebrating the 40th anniversary of the classic garment called The Journey of A Dress.
The show, at the Los Angeles County Museum of Art until April 1, is fascinating because — lets be honest here — it is filled with pretty prints and delightful dresses. One of the reasons that the wrap dress has remained relevant after 40 years is that it's simple shape is flattering on so many figures. The show features a mix of vintage and contemporary versions of the frock but we'd be hard pressed to tell you which of the following is old and which is new.
The exhibit also tells the story of Von Furstenburg's journey. Which makes perfect sense as she starred in her own ad campaign but later transcended being seen as a celebrity who dabbled in design, to becoming a respected artist and business woman. One of the highlights of the show is a gallery of images of DVF and the dress through the decades.
When Von Furstenberg introduced the wrap in 1974, she was best known as a jet setter who was married to a prince and who partied at Studio 54. But her inspiration was the little wrap sweaters that ballerinas wear during long rehearsals. She adapted the look to create something that was comfortable and feminine. Made from a light jersey fabric, the frock was an instant hit with working women because it conveyed a sense of being smart and sexy at the same time — Cybill Shepherd's reporter charcter wore one in the 1976 classic Taxi Driver. Four decades later, the warap was cinematic short-hand for Amy Adams' character in American Hustle onscreen transformation from small town gal to empowered lady.
The show's curators recognized that von Furstenberg's glamour is intertwined with the enduring appeal of the dress. The show, housed in a former department store, features 200 mannequins each modelled with DVF's facial features. The space is also dressed with blown up versions of her signature bold and graphic prints. The designer has said that each year she starts each collection by creating new prints and builds from there.
[images by Jessica Reid]