Common Threads: Dress, Identity and Art in the Twentieth Century
March 31-June 15, 2001
Herbert F. Johnson Museum of Art


In this period there was unprecedented prosperity for some, but at the same time a rising tide of troubling social ills would increasingly challenge the complacency of the affluent. By the eighties the debate over whether wives and mothers should work had ended; now the issue was how far up the professional ladder a woman might rise. As women began to test the “glass ceiling,” dress shifted to a more aggressive mode. Shoulder pads, tailoring, strongly colored patterns and dramatic silhouettes signaled that women intended to be noticed and taken seriously. During this period dramatic new forms also began to emerge from new quarters, as designers of non-European origin emerged to contribute to the language of fashion. In art, realism merged with surrealism, and abstraction merged with graffiti to created bold images that commented on popular culture, poverty, and the new tragedy of the AIDs epidemic.


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