“Feel like a woman, wear a dress!”
Upon entering the historic May Company building on Wilshire Boulevard, guests see the above quote by American fashion designer Diane Von Furstenberg, blinking in neon pink letters at the apex of the entry hallway to the gallery. This is “Journey of a Dress,” Von Furstenberg’s (DVF) exhibit at the Los Angeles County Museum of Art (LACMA), which celebrates the 40th anniversary of her brand and eternal contribution to fashion history — the wrap dress.
Inside the exhibit, visitors are surrounded by pink walls decorated with photographs of women wearing Von Furstenberg’s iconic wrap dress. A photo of Michelle Obama shows her smiling and waving at gallery-goers, stunning in her floral DVF. The dress, which wraps in the front and ties at the waist, became part of the milieu of the ’70s, when many women began ascending the corporate hierarchy.
As visitors pass through the halls of the gallery an army meets them — an army of 200 lifeless white mannequins, positioned on tiered platforms and clad in an array of DVF dresses. The vintage dresses feature a spectacular assortment of prints, including Deco-inspired geometrics, python patterns, a Jackson-Pollock-splash print and pop art, Warhol-esque motifs.
Von Furstenberg’s dynamic patters cover the walls of the exhibition room, allowing visitors to interact with her designs . The dim room is lit by spotlights that highlight the mannequins, which look as if they are preparing to walk a runway.
Designed by Stefan Beckman, the installation features several of the dresses’ vibrant prints on the walls and floors of the exhibition space, where visitors are encouraged to take pictures against the eye-popping background.
Each of Von Furstenberg’s featured dresses is a work of art, deemed a masterpiece due to the the wrap dress’s permanence in fashion history. The dresses empowered the workingwoman in the ’70s and continues to empower women today, making Furstenberg’s designs deserving of this celebratory exhibition. It is, in a word, fabulous.