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Pleats can be used to shape textiles and apparel in a multitude of ways, thereby transforming flat fabrics into three-dimensional forms. Both functional and decorative purposes of pleats allow the fabric to expand and contract as they contour the human body. This exhibition explored the use of pleats in fashion, identifying methods used to create them, their history, and their manipulation in apparel design. Textile and Apparel Management students researched, dressed and installed garments individually selected from within MHCTC holdings. A number of everyday garments were chosen by students including day dresses, lingerie dresses and work wear. Designer garments by a variety of American and international designers were also selected.

One such couture designer was Issey Miyake, one of the most innovative fashion designers of the late 20th century. He may be best known for his groundbreaking pleating method which departed from traditional processes by applying pleats to fabric after the garment and been cut and sewn. Once the pleating process was complete, the garments, initially constructed up to three sizes too large, were reduced in size to more accurate proportions. Two garments from his 1990s Pleats Please Series reflect his pioneering combination of pleats and technology to create bold architectural and artistic designs, independent forms that neither disguise nor reveal the body.

A pleated evening dress by American fashion designer Mary McFadden reflects her creative methods of varying the directions of pleated fabric and the use of boning, darts, and zippers to create shape. McFadden was inspired by the pleated chiton of classical Greece, an interest shared by Italian designer Mariano Fortuny, whose iconic pleated Delphos dress was included in the exhibition. Mariuccia Mandelli’s Krizia dress from the mid-to-late 1980s features accordion-style pleating gathered into three-dimensional swirls, reflecting her collection’s distinctive, clever and light-hearted designs.

Click images to learn more. Historical and donor information will appear.

Polyester Dress with Hood by Issey Miyake
Wool and Polyester Ensemble
Silk Evening Dress by Emanuel Ungaro
Silk Evening Dress by Mary McFadden
Silk Evening Dress by Krizia
Silk 'Delphos' Dress by Mariano Fortuny
Green Polyester Dress
Silk and Lace Dress
Cotton Lingerie Dress
Silk Cepe Dress
Pleated Polyester Dress
Wool U.S. Army Uniform