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Images of fashion exploded in the 20th century with the proliferation of ready-to-wear and glossy fashion magazines. As photography gradually became the medium of choice for fashion advertising, artists who worked by hand began to emphasize interpretation and impression over pure likeness. A figure’s poses and proportions, for example, could be manipulated to show off clothes to their best advantage. Skilled artists could convincingly depict the drape and texture of textiles with remarkably minimal means. Evocative details and locales were easily incorporated into the designs, fostering the fanciful and escapist possibilities of fashion.
This exhibition features approximately 50 drawings dating from the 1940s through the 1980s, allowing us to see how styles changed over time—not only the clothing itself, but artists’ dynamic interpretations of it. The works are selections from the Jean S. and Frederic A. Sharf Collection of fashion art at the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston, as well as gifts from the artists themselves.