News & Scoops

2009 May 18

Museum of Fine Fashion

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(NEW YORK) The fashion world may still be buzzing about the Costume Institute’s current display, but the Met isn’t the only museum with an impressive showing of fashion. The Museum of Fine Arts in Boston has just acquired two major collections: the complete archives of American designer Arnold Scaasi, and the archive of original drawings by fashion illustrator Kenneth Paul Block.

Scaasi has dressed the likes of Barbara Streisand (the collection given to the museum includes both Babs’ infamous sheer black pantsuit that she wore at the 1969 Oscars, and the looks worn in her film On a Clear Day You Can See Forever), Jackie Kennedy, Elizabeth Taylor, Mary Tyler Moore, Sophia Loren, Natalie Wood and Aretha Franklin, among others. “I am delighted that the MFA, one of the pre-eminent art museums in the United States, becomes the repository of my work, especially in light of the extraordinary depth of the museum’s collection of fashion arts,” said Scaasi in a release. “I have been fortunate to design clothes for some of the world’s most celebrated and charismatic women. My collections and archival materials document my pursuit of innovative design and will further the study of 20th-century fashion for generations to come.” The designer, who continues to work on both his couture business for private clients and his jewelry collection for the Home Shopping Network, wanted to stress: “This does not mean that I am retiring, simply that my past archives are in one place where they will be put to good use professionally.”

Kenneth Paul Block’s collection of 1,844 original 20th-century fashion illustrations and couture sketchbooks have been donated by the artist, who died earlier this year. His work appeared for more than 40 years in Women’s Wear Daily and W, and the archives offer glimpses of his drawings of work by Yves Saint Laurent, Pierre Cardin, Halston, Oscar de la Renta, and Geoffrey Beene, to name a few. “Kenneth Paul Block was arguably the greatest fashion illustrator of our time,” said Malcolm Rogers, Ann and Graham Gund Director of the Museum of Fine Arts. “The MFA is honored to house his life’s work.”

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