Walter Van Beirendonck
/ 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 shape of this coat was modeled on 18th-century menswear. Made of raffia, a tropical plant, it is adorned with images of dinosaurs and insects, rather than the floral embroidery characteristic of that period. Van Beirendonck was inspired by the ultimately destructive "cross-pollination" between 18th-century European explorers and the indigenous people of Easter Island.

Walter Van Beirendonck
Man’s ensemble
Raffia, white organdy, orange cotton, multicolor embroidery Relics of the Future collection
Summer 2006, Belgium
The Museum at FIT, 2007.54.2
Gift of Walter Van Beirendonck