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The World of Fashion and Performance Collide in the Brand New Free Exhibition On Stage In Fashion: Design for Theater, Opera, and Dance, at The New York Public Library for the Performing Arts starting on October 14


Works of such prominent designers as Chanel, Bendel, Mainbocher, de la Renta, Mizrahi and many others on display

New York, NY – New York City’s most vital and glamorous industries – entertainment and fashion – have been intertwined throughout the 20th and 21st centuries. The brand new exhibition On Stage In Fashion: Design for Theater, Opera, and Dance, celebrates the collaborations of performers with fashion designers, who together brought contemporary clothing style to theater and dance. The couture, sportswear and retail designers recognized that the introduction of clothing on stage would promote it to their targeted market, the performance audience. Co-curated by The New York Public Library for the Performing Arts and the Museum of the City of New York, the items on display from both organizations as well as the Metropolitan Opera, New York City Opera, and American Ballet Theatre that illustrate over 100 years of these collaborations for mutual benefit. Among the many designers featured in the exhibition will be Henri Bendel, Hattie Carnegie, Chanel, Mainbocher, Norman Norell, Oscar de la Renta, Calvin Klein, Marc Jacobs, Christian Lacroix, Miuccia Prada, and Isaac Mizrahi. All designers will be represented by photographs. Design for dance and recent theater productions will be documented in video. On Stage In Fashion: Design for Theater, Opera, and Dance will be on display from October 14, 2010, to January 22, 2011 in the Donald & Mary Oenslager Gallery at The New York Public Library for the Performing Arts at 40 Lincoln Center Plaza. Admission is free.

“The remarkable items amassed in On Stage In Fashion represent a century of relationships between performance and fashion,” said Jacqueline Z. Davis, Barbara G. and Lawrence A. Fleischman Executive Director for the Performing Arts. “The exhibition illustrates the indelible impact these industries have on one another. We are pleased to be working with the Museum of the City of New York.”

The garments, photographs, ephemera and media on display focus on two concurrent forms of collaboration throughout the 20th century and into the present. In modern-dress plays, couture and 7th Avenue fashion designers conspired with actors and actresses to provide clothes that could convey vital facts about their characters – income, social status, aspirations, and fatal flaws. The stage appearances served to introduce and popularize designers from Chanel and Lanvin to Mainbocher and Hattie Carnegie to theater-goers and, through promotional articles and photographs, to the general public. Performers endorsed fabric, hosiery and shoe manufacturers, while designers and providers of men's fashion ran frequent advertisements in Playbill, house programs and other periodicals.

The gallery audience will be able to view amazing garments at close hand. As well as the three dozen extraordinary examples of theater and couture garments from the Museum of the City of New York, they can see spectacular opera costumes from the Metropolitan Opera and New York City Opera, and examples of garments for movement from contemporary designers such as Donna Karan, Christian Lacroix, and Marc Jacobs that are on loan from American Ballet Theatre, Dance Theatre of Harlem, Dianne McIntyre/Sounds in Motion, Mark Morris Dance Group, Martha Graham Dance Company, New York City Ballet and Archives, San Francisco Ballet, and the Stephen Petronio Company.

Some will document performers who favored one designer throughout their careers ranging from Fortuny robes for Julia Marlowe's great Shakespeare roles, Billie Burke's gowns from Lucile, Ltd (Lady Duff-Gordon), Katharine Cornell's timeless Valentina gowns to Mary Martin's iconic costumes for The Sound of Music, designed for her alone by Mainbocher. Many performers requested clothes from Paris couture to suit their characters, such as the Chanels worn by Ann Andrews, Irene Bordoni, Ina Claire, and Gertrude Lawrence. The forgotten early generation of American women designers, such as Mme. Francis, Peggy Hoyt, Sally Milgrim, and Elizabeth Hawes, will be well represented, as will sportswear innovators Bonnie Cashin and Tina Leser. On display will be garments by American couturiers Mainbocher, Norman Norell and Halston for Judy Holiday and Lauren Bacall, and original designs by Bill Blass, Oscar de la Renta, and Geoffrey Beene.

The exhibit will also feature four costumes on loan from the Metropolitan Opera: Isaac Mizrahi’s ethereal costume for Euridice in Gluck’s Orfeo ed Euridice (first seen in 2007 and onstage again this spring); a gown created by Christian Lacroix for Renée Fleming for the final scene of the 2008 new production of Massenet’s Thaïs; and two of Miuccia Prada’s striking costumes for the characters of Attila and Ezio for the 2010 company premiere of Verdi’s Attila.

The dance section of the exhibit will include costumes by Halston and Calvin Klein for Martha Graham, by Marc Jacobs for Lar Lubovitch, by Joe Eula for the New York City Ballet, by Willi Smith for Dianne McIntyre, and by Isaac Mizrahi for Mark Morris, on loan from the companies. There will be video footage of these and many more dance/designer collaborations.

Accompanying the exhibition will be public programs, and two series of screenings from The New York Public Library for the Performing Art’s Reserve Film and Video Collection. On Tuesdays at 2:30 p.m. from September 21 thru October 26 the series Fashionable Features will spotlight the work of some of the finest fashion designers ever to work in the American film industry, including Lady Duff Gordon (Lucile, Ltd.), Bonnie Cashin and Hattie Carnegie.

On Fridays at 2:30 p.m. starting September 24 thru October 29 the film series Cover/Art: Perspectives on Fashion will consider American fashion through the spectrum of documentary film. Topics to be explored include modelling, fashion culture, and the fashion industry. Works to be screened include Jennie Livingston’s Paris Is Burning (1991), Frederick Wiseman’s Model (1980), Les Blank's Gap-Toothed Women (1987), and Thibaut de Longeville and Lisa Leone's Just For Kicks (2005).

Press Contact: Jonathan Pace | | 212.592.7710