Indianapolis Museum Exhibit Celebrates Centuries of Luxe Adornment
The glamourous gown shown above, a silk ball gown embroidered with metallic threads, pearls and sequins, by French designer Pierre Balmain from his fall/winter 1953-1954 collection, is just one of the items that will be on view at the Indianapolis Museum of Art, as part of the "Material World" exhibit starting on April 22. The Material World exhibit showcases textiles and personal adornment from cultures around the world focusing on the role of how textiles and ornamentation have been used throughout time to indicate wealth, status and power. The exhibition highlights fabrics adorned with luxurious materials including gold and metallic threads, beads, shells, mirrors, semi-precious stones, bones, fur and feathers. Items range from a Buddhist bone apron to Dior and Chanel couture pieces and span several centuries to the present day.
The exhibit brings together exotic textiles from the IMA's extensive collection to illustrate themes prevalent in cultures around the world, the relationship between status and dress. The purposes of raiment are myriad, from royal attire to ceremonial costumes and religious garments. Shown together an embroidered Russian court gown designed by Charles Frederick Worth, an Indonesian skirt adorned with cowry shells, a Chinese imperial robe embroidered with gold threads, fashion and ceremonial feathered hats, an African king's beaded robe, and items of haute couture (like the Coco Chanel feather vest above) all combine to create a picture of mankind's more peacock-like tendencies.
"Since ancient times, dress and other material possessions have indicated a person's status and role in the community," said Niloo Paydar, curator of textile and fashion arts at the IMA, in a press release last year. "Material World will reveal the allure of exotic materials used to decorate clothing and furnishings in diverse societies. As clothing is the oldest and historically definitive communicator of status, it also serves as an indicator of the differences and commonalities that exist among cultures."