Collection

Working with the MoMu/UA Study Collection: Materials and Technology Analyses

Skirt (19th century, China). Inventory number: 81073 A/B. Materials and techniques: Cotton; Silk; Glass; Paper; Metal; Metal thread; Sequins; Beads

Skirt (19th century, China). Inventory number: 81073 A/B. Materials and techniques: Cotton; Silk; Glass; Paper; Metal; Metal thread; Sequins; Beads

This skirt was such a grateful object to do research on because of the story it tells about the rich culture and refined traditions in China during the Qing-Dynasty. Next to conservation treatment, a complete study was performed on the iconography of the embroidery and the materials and techniques that were used. This was done through literature research, analyses by microscope and X-ray fluorescence. The iconography of the embroidery (butterflies and flowers) indicate that the skirt was worn by a woman: the butterfly is a woman’s symbol, which stands for elegance and immortality, while flowers are a symbol of fertility. Blue is the colour of immortality, healing, relaxation, trust, ect. And red is the colour for happiness. These two colours indicate that the skirt might have been worn on the owners’ wedding day.

Words by Bernice Brigou and Natalie Ortega, University of Antwerp, Faculty of Design Sciences, research group Heritage & Sustainability. Project supported by the Flemish Government.

Exhibition

Martin Margiela: Silhouette Transformations

Photo: Stany Dederen

Photo: MoMu Antwerp / Stany Dederen

The influence of Martin Margiela on today’s fashion world cannot be underestimated: his challenge to the status quo of the fashion system, the status of the designer, model and the concept of the garment itself have changed the industry forever, and the consequences are still widely felt today. By looking at the designer through these narratives, one nearly overlooks his multiple silhouette innovations which changed the face of 1990s fashion and created a new concept of the garment in relationship with the body. To revive your memory, here’s a sampler of Margiela’s most game-changing silhouette transformations:

1. The Shoulder

When Margiela arrived on the scene in 1989, his introduction of a narrow-shouldered silhouette, in direct contrast with the hard-bodied, broad-shouldered women of the 1980s, set the tone for the new decade. The shoulderline was slim, and female and male shoulders were sometimes placed over each other in one garment. The focus on the shoulder instead of the waist as a structuring principle is an Eastern design concept which permeates Margiela’s career: much like in the work of Cristobal Balenciaga, the shoulder is the focal point for the silhouette. His narrow shoulderline from 89 morphed into many different shapes over the years, ending with the conical shoulder of his last collections.

Shoulder sketches by Martin Margiela

Shoulder sketches by Martin Margiela

 

2. Flat Garments

In Spring-summer 1998 and Autumn-Winter 1998-99, the Maison Martin Margiela collections had subthemes with two-dimensional ‘flat’ garments, which were totally flat when not worn, Reminiscent of Japanese origami principles, whereby the flat piece of paper is folded into a 3D object. The garments had displaced sleeves and necklines tilted to the front and were inspired by the shapes of plastic grocery bags. The eerie silhouettes included The ‘Flat’ collection was shown as a video presentation, sharing its location with the Comme des Garçons show of SS 1998.

Preparation booklets with images made by Martin Margiela for the video shown at the spring/summer 1998 collection presentation. Photo: Monica Ho

Preparation booklets with images made by Martin Margiela for the video shown at the spring/summer 1998 collection presentation. Photo: MoMu Antwerp / Monica Ho

Photo: Stany Dederen

Photo: MoMu Antwerp / Stany Dederen

 

3. The woman as living doll

In Summer 1997, the same season as Comme des Garçons’ Body meets Dress collection, Maison Martin Margiela dressed the female body in a Stockmann tailoring dummy, thereby also deconstructing the idea of the ‘ideal female body’ or a standardized body type. By dressing the living body in an inanimate dummy, the shrill contrast between the fetishized female shape and the real body beneath shows how alien this standardized shape is from reality. Like the shoulder motif, the motif of the doll as an idealized version of woman, is a recurring theme in Margiela’s work, which he deconstructs in different ways.

MMM SS 1997-1998. Photo: Stany Dedere,

MMM SS 1997-1998. Photo: MoMu Antwerp / Stany Dederen

You could see it as an answer to the surrealist tradition of fetishized female body parts, but from a more woman-friendly perspective. Similarly, his oversized collection (Italian size 78) from Autumn-winter 2000-01, in which found garments are blown up to a size 78, is a one-size fits all collection to be worn by all kinds of bodies and sizes, since size 78 fits no one and thereby, everyone.

MMM 2000 - 2001. Photo: Marina Faust

MMM 2000 – 2001. Photo: Marina Faust

Game Changers. Reinventing the 20th Century Silhouette now on display at MoMu Antwerp!

Words by curator Karen Van Godtsenhoven

Exhibition

Book: Fashion Game Changers

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Fashion Game Changers traces radical innovations in Western fashion design from the beginning of the 20th century to the present.

Challenging the traditional silhouettes of their day, fashion designers such as Madeleine Vionnet and Cristóbal Balenciaga began to liberate the female body from the close-fitting hourglass forms which dominated European and American fashion, instead enveloping bodies in more autonomous garments which often took inspiration from beyond the West. As the century progressed, new generations of avant-garde designers from Rei Kawakubo to Martin Margiela further developed the ideas instigated by their predecessors to defy established notions of femininity in dress, creating space between body and garment. This way, a new relationship between body and dress emerged for the 21st century.

With over 200 images and commentaries from an international range of leading fashion curators and historians, this beautifully illustrated book showcases some of the most revolutionary silhouettes and innovative designs of over 100 years of fashion. The catalogue is published by Bloomsbury and sold in MoMu at Copyright Bookshop.

Event, Exhibition

Game Changers: The Blogger Event!

Photo: MoMu Antwerp / Maya Bogaert

Photo: MoMu Antwerp / Maya Bogaert

MoMu invited bloggers to come and enjoy an exclusive guided tour of its newest expo ‘Game Changers. Reinventing the 20th Century Silhouette’! Special thanks to Shu Uemura, Bionina, Cointreau Fizz Cocktail, Fujifilm and Unlimited Ears for making this all happen! Photos of the event are all on our facebook page!

 

Behind the scenes, Exhibition

Game Changers: The Scenography

Photo: MoMu Antwerp / Stany Dederen

Photo: MoMu Antwerp / Stany Dederen

With every exhibition, MoMu takes great pride in the scenography. For the ‘Game Changers’ exhibition, the one and only Bob Verhelst collaborated amazingly with our MoMu team to create a piece of game-changing heaven! All our scenography images are uploaded on our Facebook page!

Event, Exhibition

Game Changers: Opening Night!

Photo: MoMu Antwerp / Dennis Ravays

Photo: MoMu Antwerp / Dennis Ravays

17th March was the day: Opening night of our newest exhibition ‘Game Changers. Reinventing the 20th Century Silhouette’. All images can be enjoyed on our Facebook page!

You can now catch a glimpse of the opening night of our Game Changers exhibition! More videos on our Vimeo Channel!

Behind the scenes, Exhibition

Human Sanctuary, teaser

For our Game Changers expo, MoMu collaborated with photographer Daniel Sannwald to create a holographic video that puts the human body at the centre stage of Game Changers.

In a choreography by Sidi Larbi Cherkaoui (Eastman) and featuring a selection of Balenciaga archive pieces combined with pieces by other designers, it unites masters of the past and present in exclusive artistic production. The choreography united the garments with the bodies of Belgian model Hannelore Knuts, her son and the dancer.

Game Changers. Reinventing the 20th Century Silhouette: 18|03|2016 – 14|08|2016

Exhibition

Rethinking the Body: Comme des Garçons and Georgina Godley

 “Not what has been seen before, not what has been repeated, instead, new discoveries that look towards the future, that are liberated and lively.” Press release Comme des Garçons 1997

Comme des Garçons, ‘Body Meets Dress, Dress Meets Body’ spring/summer 1997. Photo: Yannis Vlamos

Comme des Garçons, ‘Body Meets Dress, Dress Meets Body . Spring/summer 1997. Photo: Yannis Vlamos

Recently, MoMu acquired an original spring-summer 1997 Comme des Garçons dress, from the emblematic ‘Body Meets Dress’ collection by Rei Kawakubo at the Didier Ludot Paris auction. It will be featured in the Game Changers exhibition after it has gone through a thorough restoration by Kim Verkens, MoMu’s restorator who has brought many masterpieces back to life.

Comme des Garçons, ‘Body Meets Dress, Dress Meets Body, prototype, spring/summer 1997 Dress in jersey, manmade fibre. Photo: Stanny Van Dederen

Comme des Garçons, ‘Body Meets Dress, Dress Meets Body, prototype, spring/summer 1997 Dress in jersey, manmade fibre. Photo: Stanny Van Dederen

The padded, lumpy dresses and jackets (the collection was nicknamed Lumps n Bumps and even Quasimodo by the press) heralded, right at the turn of the 20th century, a new image in which the body and garment became one. The body, which had been released from the corset in the 20th century, and was since moved around freely in  an autonomous garment, now became fused with the outside world, Rei Kawakubo bridged the gap between the person and the surrounding space. Notoriously sparse, she called the collection ‘rethinking the body’, dismissing the dark interpretations of critics who saw a ‘woman who carries the weight on her shoulders’ in the arched backsides and the use of “housewife” gingham fabrics in pastel colors. Choreographer Merce Cunningham, who used the collection in his ‘Scenario’ production, explained the shapes with a more friendly, familiar eye : “the lumps are familiar shapes we can see every day, a bike messenger with a bag over the shoulder, a tourist with fanny pack, a baby on a mother’s arm.”  Art critics have  linked these dresses to the work of Surrealist artists like Hans Bellmer, Salvador Dalí or fashion designer Elsa Schiaparelli.

Georgina Godley Lump and Bump Autumn/Winter 1986  Asymmetric padded underwear white cotton Lycra with polyester filling. Photography by Cindy Palmano

Georgina Godley Lump and Bump Autumn/Winter 1986
Asymmetric padded underwear white cotton Lycra with polyester filling.
Photography by Cindy Palmano

Similarly, the work of Georgina Godley, a British artist and former fashion designer, escapes the representation of the female body as either sexy/ sexless: in the 1980s, she did not want to choose between deconstructed, shapeless garments or the power silhouettes with broad shoulders. She also did not share the 1980s beauty ideals of a fit, muscular and hard physique for women in order to show their power. Godley opted for the ‘third way’: worshipping the female body through the use of soft, padded curves and exaggerated arches and hoops on her dresses. Her inspiration came both from African fertility goddesses as well as the women of Vermeer. She celebrates femininity without making the female body into a symmetrical, passive object. Her use of padding to  create bumps in unexpected zones, the zig-zagging looped hems and dilated curves could be seen as a feminist answer to the mostly masculine tradition of Surrealism.

Behind the scenes, Exhibition

Last touches on Game Changers!

Naamloos-4

Last touches on this ‘Horn of the Plenty’ AW 2009 – 2010 dress! Game Changers expo opens this Friday!

Collection

Working with the MoMu/UA studycollection: Making A Replica

Blouse (ca. 1900)

Inventory number: 80226

Materials and techniques: Silk; Lace

A replica can have many advantages within the museum context. For example: an exact reconstruction of an object, made using the original stitches and decoration techniques, can show visitors and researchers how these techniques were applied in the past. In doing so, the original object can also be studied without the damaging manipulation of many hands. Within the context of the University and the study collection, the making of a replica is a good way to learn how to manipulate an original object very carefully in order to take patterns. By looking at the object so carefully and with so much attention, and by executing the replica, great insight can be gained into historical techniques and costume in general.

Words by Bernice Brigou and Natalie Ortega, University of Antwerp, Faculty of Design Sciences, research group Heritage & Sustainability. Project supported by the Flemish Government.