| 20 December 2021

Bonaveri Mannequins on View: In America: A Lexicon of Fashion

The Costume Institute exhibition in New York celebrates American fashion with the help of Bonaveri's Schläppi 2200 mannequins

In America: A Lexicon of Fashion" is on view in the Anna Wintour Costume Center until September 5, 2022: an exploration of a modern vocabulary of American fashion, as multifaceted and heterogeneous as the United States. Present among the exhibition are mannequins from Bonaveri's Schläppi 2200 collection

Written by Nemo Monti | 20 December 2021

New York | Emotions and creativity are woven into clothes that leave an impression in history. This year’s Costume Institute exhibition at The Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York celebrates American fashion, as multifaceted and diverse as the United States and the many cultures that are part of it.

The Costume Institute’s In America is a two-part exhibition on view from September 18, 2021, through September 5, 2022. Part One, In America: A Lexicon of Fashion, in the Anna Wintour Costume Center, celebrates The Costume Institute’s 75th anniversary and establishes a modern vocabulary of fashion. Part Two, In America: An Anthology of Fashion—opening in the American Wing period rooms on May 7, 2022—will present sartorial narratives that relate to the complex and layered histories of those rooms. Parts One and Two will close on September 5, 2022.

Gallery View, Signature Quilt Image: © The Metropolitan Museum of Art

Accompanying the narration and enhancing the experience to guided visitors are the quality mannequins of Bonaveri. Mannequins from the Schläppi 2200 collection were chosen to be exhibited in the prestigious museum: the figures, mostly female, are characterized by artistic forms, of minimal details of sheer eloquence and elegant poses. The male mannequins selected for the exhibition are from the Tribe collection.

In America: A Lexicon of Fashion

The inspiration for the exhibition is a patchwork quilt—a simple yet profound symbol that embodies the complexities of the nation. It is a quilt from The Met’s American Wing that opens the exhibition, serving as a metaphor for the United States and the cultural identities that are part of it. The work, begun in 1856 by Adeline Harris Sears, consists of diamond-shaped squares bearing 360 signatures, including those of eight American presidents.

Gallery View, Wonder Image: © The Metropolitan Museum of Art
Gallery View, Wonder Image: © The Metropolitan Museum of Art

Like three-dimensional patches, the scrimmed cases house about 100 men’s and women’s garments designed from the 1940s to the present. The 12 sections into which the exhibition is divided— explore “Nostalgia,” “Belonging,” “Delight,” “Joy,” “Wonder,” “Affinity,” “Trust,” “Strength,” “Desire,” “Safety,” “Comfort,” and “Awareness”—explore the emotional qualities that define American fashion.

Designers featured include Diane Von Furstenberg, Patrick Kelly, Ralph Lauren, Imitation of Christ (Tara Subkoff), Oscar de la Renta (Fernando Garcia and Laura Kim), Tommy Hilfiger, Off-White (Virgil Abloh).

In the corridors one can view, among the many garments, the iconic 70s wrap dress by Diane Von Furstenberg, celebrating the lifestyle of the career woman, or Patrick Kelly’s dress from fall/winter 1986-87, defined by a heart of coloured buttons.

Schläppi 2200 mannequin on plinth in art corridor
Gallery View, Belonging Image: © The Metropolitan Museum of Art

Throughout the year, the exhibition will transform with rotations and additions, representing the vitality of American fashion.

“American fashion has traditionally been described through the language of sportswear and ready-to-wear, emphasizing the principles of simplicity, practicality, functionality, and egalitarianism. Generally denied the emotional rhetoric applied to European fashion, American fashion has developed a vernacular that tends to stand in direct opposition to that of haute couture. The first part of “In America” addresses this linguistic imbalance by presenting a revised vocabulary of American fashion based on its expressive qualities.” Andrew Bolton, the Wendy Yu Curator in Charge of The Costume Institute

The Schläppi Collection by Bonaveri

Created in the 1960s, the Schläppi collection is characterized by its artistic and minimalist, fluid, elegant, statuesque forms.

The original Schläppi mannequins are the brainchild of two visionaries: Schläppi and sculptor Lorenzo Piemonti. Beginning in the mid-1960s, the collaboration between these two individuals, a dynamic entrepreneur and a visionary artist, led to the creation of evocative figures that have endured for over twenty years.

Piemonti envisioned mannequins with distinctive stylized features, far removed from anthropomorphic figures adorned with makeup, wigs and curvy shapes. He elongated and applied abstraction to bodies and, in doing so, created iconic forms that alluded to human figures. The artist invented the future of the mannequin: he was the first to foresee an aesthetic that, some thirty years later, has become the trend of our contemporary sensibility.

In 2001 Bonaveri acquired the Schläppi brand, the archives, the intellectual properties and all the existing collections. The enormous undertaking in the interpretation and modification led to the creation of the first contemporary Schläppi ensemble with the presentation of the 2200 collection. Through reworking the existing collection and adding poses, the new figures revealed a remarkable ability to combine historical and contemporary forms. Working from Piemonti’s original creative insight, Bonaveri has brought the Schläppi form into the 21st century, making it a landmark in the global contemporary fashion narrative. Today, Bonaveri continues to add new collections while respecting the original aesthetic and design: the Aloof, Noble and Obsession collections are the latest additions to the Schläppi line.

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