We are less than one month from the opening of our FIDM Orange County campus exhibition Sun-Drenched Style: California Mid-Century Women Designers. We hope you'll join us for the opening day event on November 12, where you can enjoy California cuisine and lectures exploring the era's fashions and interior design.
The women featured in the exhibition might not be immediately familiar to you; we are highlighting influential designers who made significant contributions to California style, but perhaps were not recognized nationally. Louella Ballerino was a celebrated designer known for incorporating elements of South American, Native American, and Mexican culture into her collections. The Louella Ballerino post below was first published in July 2011, and became the second most popular post of 2011. It describes how a serendipitous find dramatically altered our understanding of a midriff-baring 1940s Ballerino crop top in our collection - a garment you can see in person in Sun-Drenched Style.
In 2003, a black and coral crop top was donated to the FIDM Museum. The top is of coral silk, with black silk appliques in a stylized floral pattern. Accompanying the donation was a snapshot of the donor actually wearing the top. We love this kind of supporting documentation! Here's the photo, taken someplace in southern California and dated 1946.
During the mid 1940s, the crop top, or midriff top, was widely popular. Exposed midriffs were seen in swimsuits, playsuits and even evening gowns. A Jan 1946 fashion spread in the New York Times highlighted full-length evening gowns with exposed midriffs and cut-out backs. The accompanying copy reads, "Fashion is baring the midriff this season not only for sports wear, but for evening."1 As the photo above documents, the bare midriff was more than a trend promoted by the fashion press; it was also adopted by the woman in the street.