There are currently two shows open through the summer, in downtown DC, that feature the work of fashion designers. Both exhibitions are sure to give you all the inspiration you may need to enhance your own fiber work this year.  Or, you could use them to give you that needed fashion jolt that will cover you until the next season of Downton Abby arrives.

Fashioning the New Woman: 1890 – 1925 at the DAR museum

Fashioning the New Woman, DAR museum

This historic fashion show is a look at how the conservatism of the Victorian Age led to the frivolity of the Jazz Age. The answer is the New Woman. Although there are many amazing gowns and suits on display, some of the standout sections are the areas featuring the everyday clothes. One of my favorite sections was the look in the everyday closet of women and the view it gives of the numerous basic undergarments that women had to wear. Don’t forget to marvel at the college sweater with mutton sleeves and the gorgeous hats.

The exhibit is a wonderful glimpse at the often over looked women of the turn of the century that helped define the modern woman of the 20th and 21st century. Women roles in education, sports, politics, and the workplace are all explore through the eyes of fashion. Also, don’t turn down the full tour of the DAR museum; there are quilts on display throughout the building! Just ask for the docent’s tour and ask them to point the beauties out along the way.

Diaghilev and the Ballets Russes: 1909 – 1929 at the National Gallery of Art

Wondering what a fiber artist can get from an exhibit about the ballet? Inspiration will come in many forms when you explore the costumes, backdrops, and posters that accompanied the ballet. The costumes alone feature beadwork, embroidery, quilting, knitting, ikat, silk painting, and so much more. In addition to the original ballet costumes, the exhibit features video clips from modern remakes of the original ballets. Trust me, you will want to watch them all. After all, what is a dance costume if it is not seen in motion?

Ballet Russes, NGA

Ballet Russes, NGA

Most importantly, the show explores some of the ballets collaborations with fine artists, like Matisse and Picasso, and fashion designers, like Chanel and Delaney. All of these are wonderful examples that art in many forms can come together to create a full circle of inspiration. Elsewhere in the museum, those famous cutouts by Henri Matisse are still on display in the tower of the new building. Due to light sensitivity they are only open to the public a few hours a day, so check the website for times.