On May 20th , the Indianapolis Museum of Art (IMA) opened a new exhibit entitled “19 Stars of Indiana Art,” which is apart of the Bicentennial celebration. This exhibit showcases important artists in various categories such as fashion, jewelry, quilting, painting, etc. What sets this exhibit aside from others is the factor that each artist was either born in Indiana or had spent a great deal of time here building their accomplishments. For those who assume Indiana is just another Midwestern state, these artists prove that we’re more than just corn. Most importantly, two extremely well-known fashion designers, Halston and Bill Blass, are featured with this exhibit alongside their designs and works of art.
Bill Blass, born in Fort Wayne, Indiana, was a fashion designer with seven Coty Awards and the Fashion Institute of Technology’s Lifetime Achievement Award under his belt. Starting in fashion during the 1940’s, Blass became the protege of Baron de Gunzburg, working in mens and womenswear until he opened his own company in 1959. Blass was known for his elite clientele and luxurious designs for women. His pieces exuded comfort and ease while being expensive at the same time.
Roy Halston Frowick, famously known as Halston, came into play in the 1970’s. His minimalist, clean designs are what set him aside during an era that consisted of bright colors and prints. Although Halston was originally from Iowa, Indiana claims him for his fashion studies at Indiana University and also his residence in Evansville beforehand. Gaining inspiration from his seamstress mother, Halston’s designs were made for the new and modern women of the 1970’s using silks and other luxurious fabrics. His pieces were known for being chic and elegant but also comfortable, and they were made to fit the womanly figure for the workday and for the perfect night out.
Both Blass and Halston were extreme socialites, spending their nights out at places like Studio 54. Their work was seen on women who loved the nightlife and who could also afford it. Disco queens, glam girls, mod women – Blass and Halston could be seen on each type of style worn during this era.
Niloo Paydar, the curator of Fashion and Textile Arts at the IMA, has a strong passion for this exhibit, especially when it comes to Halston.
“Halston was and still is, to me, the master of cut and construction,” says Paydar, pointing out that the pieces on display could still be worn today. She describes his work as something no one had ever done before and something nobody will ever do. The four pieces that are on display for Halston show a lot of movement. The first two looks are gowns, one a lighter green and the other black, each with flowy finishes and matching shawls. Each design can still be worn today for more formal events. The last two pieces are a little more outdated, with two piece matching sets in both blue and sequined red.
As for Blass’s work, his showcased work includes three designs. The first being a loud, printed coat with a solid colored, pencil dress. The second an evening gown, in bright pink and a dark purple, with detailed pleating and a bow in front to top it off. Last, a matching sequined jacket and shirt set paired with wide leg trousers. The whole display screamed Mad Men. When asking Paydar about Blass, she describes his approach as almost elitist, “Blass was in business for a long time, making things like elegant sportswear while using expensive fabrics. His clientele were rich New Yorkers who liked a structured look.”
The “19 Stars” exhibit runs until January of 2017 and can be found on the second floor of the Indianapolis Museum of Art on 4000 Michigan Road.