Preview: Cutting-Edge Fashion: Recent Acquisitions

Exhibit opening today at the IMA showcases avant-garde styles from fashion pioneers.


A dinner jacket festooned with silverware. A handbag in the shape of a milk carton. For fashion infused with a sense of fun, check out Cutting-Edge Fashion: Recent Acquisitions, which opens today at the Indianapolis Museum of Art, showcasing women’s fashion from the 1920s through the early 2000s. The exhibit features more than 60 groundbreaking garments from European, American, and Japanese fashion designers who challenged traditional styles, with designs running the gamut from evening gowns and sportswear to bathing suits and handbags. Niloo Paydar, curator of textile and fashion arts at the IMA, has been diligently acquiring a number of significant garments over the years for the museum’s fashion-arts collection.

In a private tour, Paydar allowed IM a sneak peek of the new exhibition. Upon entering, guests are greeted with a 1991 pantsuit ensemble by Indiana native Stephen Sprouse, who was one of the first American designers to introduce street style into the fashion scene. The suit boasts rows of large, oval glow-in-the-dark sequins. The five-piece suit (sans pasties) joins a large collection of Indiana designer fashions at the IMA.

The exhibit, which runs through January 3, 2016, is full of extravagant designer pieces. Standouts include a 1920s evening dress by Callot Soeurs featuring a mermaid silhouette with a distinctive train and an exaggerated fishtail—a tour de force in innovative fashion design. An eccentric 1982 “boob-tube” sweater by Vivienne Westwood might garner a few snickers, too.

In conjunction with this exhibition, the IMA will host a talk Aug. 27 by University of Notre Dame professor and author of The Lost Art of Dress, Linda Przybyszewski. The museum will also host Project IMA on Oct. 2, a runway show featuring creations by local and national artists and fashion designers. The fourth in a series of fashion shows organized by the IMA, the 2015 event showcases both emerging and established design talent. Cutting-Edge Fashion: Recent Acquisitions is included with general admission (now $18).