Style

Peek into the richest closets in Charlotte – in an art museum.

Charlottean Lisa Dargan poses in her wedding dress, designed by couture fashion house Giambattista Valli, 2014. The dress will be part of the “Contemporary Couture” exhibit at the Mint Museum in October, which will spotlight the best couture pieces from Charlotte women’s closets.
Charlottean Lisa Dargan poses in her wedding dress, designed by couture fashion house Giambattista Valli, 2014. The dress will be part of the “Contemporary Couture” exhibit at the Mint Museum in October, which will spotlight the best couture pieces from Charlotte women’s closets.

For lovers of fashion, the next 12 months at the Mint Museum will feature three don’t-misses:

▪ A vast collection of the late Oscar de la Renta’s creations,

▪ An exhibition of Broadway and TV costumes created by Carolina native William Ivey Long, and

▪ A grouping of 20 couture pieces plucked out of Charlotteans’ closets.

The Mint, which assigns a theme to each year, has dubbed 2018 “The Year of Fashion.” (The museum’s event calendar runs July through June). “It is a fashion-packed program,” says Annie Carlano, the Mint’s senior curator of craft, design and fashion.

First up, opening Sept. 23, is William Ivey Long: Costume Design 2007-2016, an exhibition celebrating the past 10 years in the career of the Tony-winning costume and clothing designer who created costumes for scads of Broadway shows, including “Hairspray,” “The Producers,” “Cabaret” and “Cinderella.” His recent TV credits include costumes for “Grease: Live” in 2016 and the 2016 TV special “Rocky Horror Picture Show: Let’s Do the Time Warp Again.”

WIL Grease behind the scenes
Tony Award-winning costume designer William Ivey Long on the set of the “Grease: Live!” TV production in 2016. Long will be the focus of an exhibition at the Mint Museum that opens in September. David Korins

Videos will accompany the costumes, so visitors can see how costumes appeared onstage and on-screen, and also ooh over the A-list actors who wore them, Carlano said. “Costume is designed to move. It’s a kinetic art; it’s the most complex art, in a way. The genius of the design is the drape of the fabric, which you can see full blown in film.”

Long, 69, who grew up in Manteo, N.C., and Rock Hill (his dad founded the Winthrop University theater department) studied Italian Renaissance art history and architecture at UNC Chapel Hill, and was studying set design at Yale when he caught the fashion bug.

He worked as an apprentice under American master couturier Charles James, which put him on the road to a major career in fashion design and costuming. “He has an education unlike any costume designer working today,” Carlano says. “He has the approach of a scholar to everything he does.”

WIL_LostColony
Costume designer William Ivey Long, a native of North Carolina, designed costumes for Paul Green’s “The Lost Colony” outdoor drama in Manteo, N.C., which he and his family have been a part of since Long’s childhood. Long is the focus of an exhibit at the Mint Museum that opens in September. Here, Nikki Ferry (playing Queen Elizabeth I) and Terry Snead (playing Governor White), perform the “Queen's Chamber” scene. J. Aaron Trotman

The Mint is creating the exhibition in-house, curated by Carlano and Rebecca Elliot and designed by the Mint’s HannaH Crowell (yes, she capitalizes both Hs). The show will focus on the past 10 years of the designer’s career, sincee an earlier exhibition at the Cameron Art Museum in Wilmington, N.C., focused on his early years.

Long, who still holds deep ties in the Carolinas, will give a lecture and do a meet-and-greet with museum patrons duing the exhibition’s opening weekend, Carlano said. The exhibition will run through June 3, 2018.

In October, visitors can gawk at the priciest couture looks owned by Charlotte’s most major fashionistas in the Charlotte Collects: Contemporary Couture exhibition.

Expect about 20 pieces in the show, from the closets “of women who really collect fashion as masterworks of art and design,” Carlano said. “This will be an exhibition of museum-quality fashion, as it celebrates some of the women in the community who are very supportive of fashion at the Mint, as well as fashionistas in their own right.”

The exhibition will give a nod to Laura Vinroot Poole, whose boutique, Capitol, is the source for many of the exhibition pieces, Carlano said. “There will also be fashion in our community from women who shop in Paris, London and L.A.”

And next April, the Mint will host Oscar de la Renta: The Retrospective, an exhibition of more than 100 pieces the late iconic designer created during a career in Spain, Paris and New York. This isn’t the Mint’s first time spotlighting de la Renta. In 2011, the Mint hosted him for a fashion show fundraiser organized by its auxiliary.)

This exhibition was a collaboration with the House of Oscar de la Renta and the designer’s family, and curated by André Leon Talley, former American editor-at-large for Vogue and a lifelong friend of de la Renta. It will appear at the Museum of Fine Arts in Houston this fall.

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