Cubism And Fashion

The Metropolitan Museum of Art

How did women's dress evolve from the balloon-derriere silhouette of the 19th century to the cleaner, linear look that has characterized the 20th? This show at the Met's Costume Institute makes the dazzling and utterly convincing visual argument that what facilitated the transition was the influence of Cubist painting and theory. From the tunics of Callot Soeurs to the cylindrical day dresses of Vionnet to the drop-waist skirts of Chanel in the 1920s, fashion's deflation followed the Cubist embrace of the plane. In other words, liberated from corsets, women everywhere owe a thank-you to Picasso and Braque.

--By Ginia Bellafante


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