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Black. Masters of Black in Fashion and Costume

A retrospective of fashion's favorite color at Antwerp's Mode Museum

by Richard Prime in Style on 30 March 2010

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An apt location for an exhibition dedicated to the use of black in fashion and costume design, Antwerp is arguably the industry's minimalism mecca. As an influential fashion capital, its status owes much to the Antwerp Six—graduates from the Royal Academy of Fine Arts in the early '80s—whose roster includes Dries Van Noten, Walter Van Beirendonck, Ann Demeulemeester, Dirk Bikkembergs and briefly, the reclusive Martin Margiela.

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The city's Mode Museum hosts a new exhibition dedicated to fashion's favorite color in "Black. Masters of Black in Fashion & Costume." Throughout Western history black textiles have conveyed multiple messages and significance, with intrinsic ties to Antwerp, a city famed for dyeing fabrics the color in the 16th and 17th centuries.

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Leading up to the 19th century, the complexity of dyeing methods meant that black fabrics were only available to the rich and wealthy. However, improved manufacturing capabilities bought the color to the masses, culminating in the turning point and arrival of Chanel's Little Black Dress.

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Tracing the roots and cultural significance of the color, the exhibition covers a breadth of information and references including materials, production methods and textures. Mode Museum's Black exhibition also features garments from the likes of Ann Demeulemeester, Olivier Theyskens and Dirk Van Saene, as well as the international couture houses of Givenchy (Riccardo Tisci), Chanel and rapidly rising star Gareth Pugh.

The exhibit runs until 8 August 2010.

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