Thursday, February 21, 2013

Adolfo's Early Clothing

Earlier this week, we looked at Adolfo's hats.  When Adolfo opened his exclusive millinery shop in 1962, he began showing simple garments of his own design to offset his hats.  In 1966, as the popularity of hats dwindled, Adolfo made the decision to begin designing clothing in earnest.  As a milliner, he had developed an exclusive clientele of socialites.  These women formed his custom client base as he moved into designing fashion. 
1966 gold beaded mini dress, from the collection of the Met Museum
Women such as Gloria Vanderbilt, Babe Paley, CZ Guest, Jackie Onassis and Nancy Reagan drove his business.  Adolfo would show the collection to these women privately and make their garments to order. 

1967, from the collection of The V&A Museum
He stayed away from designing the popular sportswear of the time and instead focused on specialty items that reflected the social status of his exclusive clientele.  The evening ensemble above was made from an antique crazy quilt.
Late 60s vest and hot pants made from a crochet afghan, available at Frockology
Many of his pieces from the late 60s were quite "costume-y"  He was quoted as saying that his clothing was for a woman's fun and fantasy moods.  "Ladies want fun and games," he said in 1969.  He was satisfying their wants with maxi coats made from antique Spanish tapestry bedspreads and maxi skirts made from panels cut from checkered tablecloths and sheer gauze curtains.

1968, crochet mini dress, from the collection of the Met Museum
Adolfo showed this crochet mini dress in 1968. Jackie Onassis called him and ordered it custom made in 14 different colors.

1970, from the collection of RISD
Adolfo would use ideas from ethnic and native costumes that he observed when on vacation.  In Portugal, he saw women wearing embroidered shawls with long fringe.  The dress above shows the result of that inspiration.  After visiting Sardinia, he made a leather evening vest that laced in the front, to be worn with a voluminous satin full length skirt.  The vest was meant to be worn with nothing underneath, not even a bra.

Adolfo won a second Coty Award for his clothing  in 1969.

In one short year, starting in 1970, Adolfo's designs will make a radical change from the outrageous flights of fancy to a more classic and subdued esthetic.  We'll look at those garments next time