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It's What All the Whores Are Wearing!

Historical exhibit shines the spotlight on much-maligned fashions.

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Back in the day, fashion critics compared designer Madeleine Vionnet’s clothes to those that hookers sported on the streets of Paris a hundred years ago. Vionnet 2007, now on view at the Kent State University Museum, shows just how ahead of their time whores were in 1907. “Everything we see celebrities wear at award shows today is based on her cut technique,” says curator Anne Bissonnette. “It’s what we consider glamour.”

The exhibit (which includes more than a dozen items) pays tribute to Vionnet’s signature pieces -- which were inspired by dancer Isadora Duncan, who wore loose-fitting dresses during performances. “[Vionnet] decided to do garments without any corsets, and the models were outraged,” says Bissonnette. “They actually had to start taking baths and cleaning their toenails. The fashion houses said, ‘You can create whatever, but we’re not going to sell it.’” The snub didn’t faze Vionnet: She opened her own studio in 1912 and proceeded to revolutionize women’s wear. She died in 1975 at the age of 98, but her minimalist patterns still influence today’s couture. “She let the body move into the garments,” says Bissonnette. “She joined construction and aesthetics in ways that no other designer has. She was -- and still is -- one of the most forward-thinking designers ever.”
Wednesdays, Fridays, Saturdays, 10 a.m.-4:45 p.m.; Thursdays, 10 a.m.-8:45 p.m.; Sundays, 12-4:45 p.m. Starts: Oct. 10. Continues through Jan. 27, 2007

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