Los Angeles

“A Century of Fashion, 1900–2000”

Los Angeles County Museum of Art (LACMA)

I miss Richard Martin.

The first installment of selected fashions from LACMA’s permanent collection displays some exquisite frocks but almost no curatorial principle beyond the brainstorm of arranging the outfits chronologically by decade. The first due that something’s amiss is in the brief press release, which includes the phrase “installed in four rotations . . . on view through January 6, 2003.” There is no indication here or elsewhere why certain dresses or designers were selected (or by what criteria they will be “rotated”). It’s certainly not that each piece of clothing embodies the quintessence of a moment or even of a designer; some bear only the label of a smart department store, such as the sleek but deliciously garish gown in “silver” (though it shimmers like twenty-four karats and was shown with gold pumps) lame and red silk velvet, with an attached stole, from Henri Bendel,

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