Fashion Friday: My Trip to LACMA for DVF's Journey of a Dress
Once upon a time, there was a princess with an idea. The idea was a dress. Not a taffeta ball gown, like the ones fairy-tale heroines wear—this was a drip-dry, cotton jersey dress that wrapped in front and tied at the waist. The princess devised cunning prints in vivid colors and arranged for the dress to be manufactured and sold. In no time women all across the land were buying the dresses—five million of them—and wearing them. And even though the princess was a member of the jet set, famous far and wide as a glamorous party girl, her dress was seen as evidence of an uncanny knack for identifying with her customers. They felt that she must have understood them to have invented something so comfortable and practical, so suitable to their own everyday adventures and their new found sense of independence. For the women of the land had gone to work. Heigh-ho!
It was the 70’s, and enmasse they left their sculleries and their hearths for careers in finance, law and other fields that had been the province of men. Wearing a wrap dress by the princess—an entrepreneur herself— the women went on job interviews, they went straight from the office out to dinner, they went around the world, washing the dress at night in their hotel room’s bathroom sink. Requiring no help with a zipper in back or hard-to-reach hooks and eyes, the wrap dress epitomized not only the spirit of women’s liberation but of sexual liberation, too. In two minutes flat, a woman could be dressed and out the door. In even less time, she could be undressed.
Years passed and the princess left the wrap dress behind, moving on to books, cosmetics and other business ventures. The women of the land embraced her as one of them. Before long, a new generation was searching thrift shops for vintage wrap dresses, the populace was under the spell of the 70’s. And so it came to pass that the wrap dress, after a long slumber, was reawakened. The (now former) princess put it back into production—this time in silk jersey and a new range of fabrics, colors, prints and silhouettes. And the calendars turned to 2014 and the day came when the wrap dress turning 40, an age at which women were once dismissed as over the hill. But women, like the princess, had by now proved that old notion wrong, and the wrap dress was still going strong. So the princess threw it a party, gathering beloved past examples from farlung closets. Welcome to the party.