Quite a few commercial sites have been trying to improve their looks and their offers to customers: style, trend and beauty videos are usually the main option, together with brief shots of catwalk shows and such likes.
I admit, though, that I find most of them repetitively useless, the sort of stuff that clogs the internet (I mean, how many times and for how many seasons will you be watching a video that gives you tips on how to wear rolled up trousers and sweater dresses? Ah, the mystery!).
That said I found something rather interesting on the Yoox site.
To celebrate the opening last Friday of the new Museum at the Fashion Institute of Technology (FIT) exhibition, American Beauty: Aesthetics and Innovation in Fashion, an event that examines the themes of beauty and dressmaking in American fashion through 80 garments (and that includes among the other designers also Jessie Franklin Turner, Bonnie Cashin, Charles Kleibacker, Halston, Pauline Trigere, Claire McCardell, Isabel Toledo, Ralph Rucci, Jean Yu and Rodarte), Yoox included on its site a series of interesting interviews connected with the event.
The interviews are divided into themes - "Geometries", "Dressmaking Vs Tailoring", "Engineering" and "Embroidery and Surface Embellishment" - and connected with the commercial part of the site, a vintage online shop.
The latter is also divided in accordance with such themes and therefore allows occasional visitors and eager buyers to browse and find designs that evoke those specific categories.
For example, under the geometry category you will find Campbell’s paper “Souper Dress”, Halston's Grecian ivory evening gown with gathered halter top or a few designs from the 70s by Rudi Gernreich, while Stephen Sprouse's trousers and mini-skirts, characterised by the designer's iconic bold prints, may be found under the last category that explores the importance of surface embellishments and decorative motifs.
(Note: the garments may set you back several hundreds or even thousands euros; if you visit the site hoping to buy something, having a healthy bank account may help…).
The videos are brief, yet quite technical and, rather than offering quick and superficial tips on trends (like 98% of what’s on the net at the moment...), they cleverly analyse the innovative construction and craft-making behind specific garments highlighting the relationship between elements such as draping, geometric forms, tailoring and rigid construction and aesthetics.
The importance of a simple geometric shape such as the rectangle is explored in Halston’s "American Beauty Rose" gown; Vionnet’s influence on Elizabeth Hawes is acknowledged, while Hollywood glamour, a seminal theme in American fashion history, is explored comparing Adrian's 1937 red and gold bugle beaded gown for Joan Crawford in Dorothy Arzner's The Bride Wore Red to Rodarte's Fall 2008 evening dress in steam dyed silk tulle and black mohair yarn.
The videos perfectly allow to discover the technical details about specific designs such as Charles James’ 1955 tree evening dress in pink silk taffeta ball gown and that’s absolutely the best thing about them.
Patricia Mears, the Museum at FIT Deputy Director and curator of the American Beauty exhibition, offers the main commentary on the videos, but designers James Galanos, Ralph Rucci, Francisco Costa and Yeohlee Teng, pattern maker Nicolas Caito and European Editor-at-Large at Vogue Hamish Bowles also make an appearance.
I hope that, from now on, we will be able to have access to many more videos of such kind on the Internet.
In the meantime, if you want to have further details on the American Beauty exhibition, you can also read the editorial feature on 1stdibs, the online resource for antique and vintage design and sponsor of the Museum at FIT exhibition.