Haute Couturier: Arnold Scaasi Exhibit at the Boston MFA

The Boston Museum of Fine Arts is providing the city’s fashionistas with another reason to stop by. A month after the Richard Avedon fashion exhibit has ended, theScaasi: American Couturier” show is still in full swing. The museum is celebrating the icon by displaying 28 of his ensembles, along with sketches and photographs. Scaasi’s career was greeted with huge success when it began with a ready-to-wear line in 1956, gracing the covers of Vogue and Harper’s Bazaar in no time at all. Shortly thereafter he decided to shift focus and concentrate solely on his custom-made designs, thus paving the way for his achievements as a personal couturier to some of the 20th century’s most famed female figures.

From socialites to artists, movie stars, and political figures, Scaasi was responsible for crafting not only wardrobes, but also a strategy to shape who these women were and how they were perceived by the public. The exhibit not only examines his designs, but his relationships with famous clientele, such as Elizabeth Taylor, Mamie Eisenhower, Barbara Bush, Barbra Streisand, Mary Tyler Moore, Ivana Trump, Joetta Norban, Brooke Astor, and more. His talents can be seen in the range of styles he was able to create, from a fabulously playful black tulle dress for Natalie Wood in 1966, to a glamorous and conservative gold brocade gown fit for a first lady. It isn’t hard to see the timelessness of Scaasi’s designs. One of his white silk gowns adorned with silver lace, plain rosettes, and feathers reminded me of a few wedding dresses I have seen recently by Monique Lhuillier and Anne Barge. And what would a fashion exhibit be without a little scandal? This display does not disappoint, showcasing the famous black sequined pantsuit that proved to be very translucent when Streisand wore it on the Oscar stage in 1969!

“Scaasi: American Couturier” will be at the Boston Museum of Fine Arts through June 19, 2011. While you are there, also pay a visit to the Art of the Americas wing, which has a variety of phenomenal furniture, home textiles and even fine china and silver on display. To learn more about both exhibits, visit the Boston MFA website. To browse pictures of Scaasi dresses previously displayed at the MFA, check out the Educator’s Online page. After viewing the additional designs, I couldn’t help but wonder if the museum should start selling replicas in the gift shop. Despite the conflict of interest, I would love to walk into my next cocktail party sporting a little Scaasi!

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