Silk Taffeta dress Thom Browne
/ Hoops & Bustles
Designs may be inventive and modern even when they reinterpret garments as seemingly antithetical to modern fashion as hoop skirts or bustles. Detractors have decried referencing as derivative, but innovation is often the result of a backward glance to fashions past.

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The fashionable body during the mid-19th century had a corseted hourglass shape. Voluminous, bell-shaped skirts, at their widest around 1860, served to make the waist appear even smaller. The expansive skirts were supported by hoop undergarments, called cage crinolines.

Thom Browne’s vividly-colored, imaginative reinterpretation of the cage crinoline places the garment, traditionally hidden from view, on the outside of one of his signature suits, made in the small proportions for which the designer is known.

Two-piece dress
Plaid silk taffeta, black velvet
Circa 1860, USA
Museum purchase, P88.14.5

Thom Browne ensemble
Printed Madras polyeser faille, cotton, silk/cotton tie, multicolor plaid cotton hoops, leather
Spring 2013, USA
Gift of Thom Browne, 2013.20.1