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Trendspotting Fashioning Fashion at LACMA

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The Los Angeles County Museum of Art's brand new, light filled Resnick Pavilion is jammed with treasures from North America and Western Europe, not least of which includes the exhibition Fashioning Fashion, featuring some of the most exquisitely preserved French and English clothes from the 18th to early 20th centuries we’ve seen in years! This isn’t stuff that your local shopgirl or manservant would wear -- these are garments that exemplify the word couture -- hand woven, hand embellished, painstakingly crafted, and custom-tailored for one very special, well-moneyed person who is happy to spend the equivalent of his footman's salary on solid gold thread and hand woven silk fabric shipped from exotic, faraway lands.

You too can enjoy the magnificent, frivolous splendor of the haute bourgeoisie on your own, and learn a lot about fashion history: of the shift in silhouettes; the emergence of new materials and technologies; and of the extraordinary embellishment techniques used to indoctrinate a rich lady's ball gown or her husband's three-piece suit into the realm of royalty.

But before you go on your way to the unreal fashion worlds of European high society back in the day, we've interpreted some of the loveliest garments in terms of fall fashion now. (Text by Mara Gladstone; images via LA Times and assorted.)
· Fashioning Fashion: European Dress in Detail, 1700-1915 [LACMA]


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