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Bill Blass, Halston, Norman Norell, and Stephen Sprouse honored in exhibition of fashion designers from Indiana
Exhibition view, An American Legacy: Norell, Blass, Halston & Sprouse; Courtesy of the Indianapolis Museum of Art.

INDIANAPOLIS, IND.- An American Legacy: Norell, Blass, Halston & Sprouse at the Indianapolis Museum of Art highlights the achievements of celebrated fashion designers Norman Norell, Bill Blass, Stephen Sprouse and Halston, all of whom hailed from Indiana. Spanning more than 50 years of fashion history, the exhibition presents the work of four innovative designers, their individual styles and lasting influence on American fashion. Featuring some of the most outstanding garments from the Indianapolis Museum of Art’s fashion arts collection, An American Legacy will be on view from May 4, 2012, to January 27, 2013.

Adhering to individual creative philosophies, these designers produced bodies of work that contributed significantly to the universal definition of American style. An American Legacy, the first group exhibition devoted to these prolific designers, traces their careers and offers a fresh look at their work, which ranges in date from the 1940s to the late 20th century.

“Norell, Blass, Halston and Sprouse influenced not only American fashion, but international style,” said Niloo Paydar, curator of fashion and textile arts. “The pieces in An American Legacy were selected to represent the unique style of each designer, highlighting their individual artistic approaches and philosophies of decorating the human body.”

The exhibition features more than 50 garments drawn from the IMA’s comprehensive collection, augmented with major loans from the archives of Stephen Sprouse. Established in 1973 with the donation of five pieces from the estate of Norman Norell, the IMA’s American fashion design collection now comprises more than 500 pieces from Norell, Blass and Halston alone.

Among the highlights of the exhibition are a Bill Blass evening gown created for the former first lady Nancy Reagan, a Norman Norell day dress worn by American actress Betty Furness while on camera during the 1960 Presidential convention, a 1972 evening dress designed by Halston based on Andy Warhol’s ‘flowers’ paintings, and a Sprouse designed Warhol-inspired camouflage dress popularized by rock star Debbie Harry. Organized by the IMA, An American Legacy will be on view in the museum’s Gerald & Dorit Paul Textile and Fashion Arts galleries.

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