Robe l'anglaise Agatha Ruis de la Prada
/ 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 Robe à l’anglaise is shaped by its undergarments. Panniers, comprised of left and right side hoops, create the width at the hip. The open front gown was worn with a corset, over which was fastened a decorative V-shaped insert called a stomacher.
Spanish designer Agatha Ruiz de la Prada used wire to recreate the wide-hipped look of panniers. Her joyful bands of color are reminiscent of the brightly colored paper strips often used in piňatas.

Silk damask Robe à l’anglaise
Circa 1765, England
The Museum at FIT, P78.3.2, Museum purchase

Agatha Ruiz de la Prada dress
Multicolor satin ribbon, wire
Spring/Summer 2009, Spain
The Museum at FIT, 2009.35.1
Gift of Agatha Ruiz de la Prada