/ 18th Century Styles
The Historical Mode, a 1989 Museum at FIT exhibition curated by Richard Martin, explored widespread historicism in 1980s design. Martin believed that in historically inspired fashions, "elements are borrowed, but differentiation is supreme," and he lauded the ways in which "historicism’s petty thefts [could] lead to a bright and original creative conclusion."

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The velvet skirt of this evening dress, open down the center front to reveal the underskirt and paired with a pointed corset style bodice, is reminiscent of an 18th-century gown with stomacher. The volume at the hips also gives a subtle nod to the pannier silhouette of that era.

Evening dress
Light blue taffeta, mauve velvet, silver buttons
Circa 1951, France
The Museum at FIT, 84.125.3
Gift of Mrs. F. Leval