As much as I like to say I’m from Chicago and try to slur together the words “firstsuburbwestof” before I say Chicago, I know that somehow, living just across the street from the city limits makes me an outsider. So living in Philadelphia has really been one of my first experiences with city living and I’ve become quite attached to it. However, when faced with the dreaded question, “So, what’s Philly like?” I can’t really provide an adequate answer. As college students, we often get into the routine of going to the same places. For this reason, I’ve vowed to get to know Philadelphia better by taking advantage of the myriad opportunities the city offers.
My first effort in creating a more cultured approach to exploring Philadelphia was to plan a trip to the Philadelphia Museum of Art. I’m happy to say that so far during my year at Penn, I’ve been to the museum already. Whether I actually looked at any artwork during the NSO party is a different story. However, the Inspiring Fashion exhibit was intriguing enough to bring me back to the museum.
On display in the exhibit are a collection of clothes from designers showcasing the inspiration of Tom Marotta. Marotta was a Saks Fifth Avenue couture executive who, during his forty year career, shaped the fashion trends of the time through his understanding that fashion can only be called such when worn by real people. A design that is only wearable on the runway is not what fashion designers should focus time and effort on. Marotta saw what designers offered on runways but helped translate the more artistic, and statement pieces into real and wearable clothes. Marotta had a strong ability to understand the customer’s wishes in the contemporary trends but also cultivate a ‘high-fashion’ look.
The pieces displayed in the Inspiring Fashion collection are from a wide range of designers including Valentino, Zac Posen, Oscar de la Renta, Michael Kors, and Marc Jacobs. Every piece in the collection is characteristic of its designer’s unique designs in his or her own line. Michael Kors’s dress combines a simple structure with intricate sequins and stitching to create a piece that is undeniably his and Oscar de la Renta’s evening gown showcases his classic shade of red that is characteristic of his clothing. However, both these and other pieces were produced in a style heavily influenced by Marotta and every piece in the collection is something that real people might wear, indicating Marotta’s influence.
(The dress above, designed by Peter Som for Bill Blass Ltd., offers an example of a wearable high-fashion piece created in line with Tom Marotta’s vision [source: http://www.philamuseum.org/exhibitions/372.html])
Located across the street from the Philadelphia Museum of Art on the second floor of the Perelman Building, the exhibit runs until August 31. Tickets are, as always, free with a museum membership and $12 for students with a valid I.D.