Mariano Fortuny at New York’s Spanish Institute

Mariano Fortuny y Madrazo, Printed Cotton textile, circa early 20th century. 

Call it a meeting of [Spanish] minds, both past and present.  Oscar de la Renta has  curated an exhibit with New York City’s Queen Sofia Spanish Institute on renowned fashion designer Mariano Fortuny y Madrazo, otherwise oft-referred to by the simple moniker Fortuny.  The collaborative effort of Fortuny y Madrazo: An Artistic Legacy does not stop with these two household names of Spanish-bred design, however: the son and descendant of a long line of painters, artists, and collectors on both sides of the family, de la Renta’s exhibit places Fortuny’s fashion and textiles within the context of this rich artistic lineage, that is to say, juxtaposed with the work of his ancestors, notably that of his father, the genre painter Mariano Fortuny y Marsal.

A liberator of women’s bodies like his then-contemporary Paul Poiret, Fortuny’s strikingly modern, simple dresses belie a technical prowess and fastidious attention to surface texture and design that continues to inspire legions of designers today.  The incredible opportunity to see these textiles in the flesh- and discover Fortuny’s sensual, decadent visual universe (even the walls are covered in Fortuny fabric)- is open through March 30, 2013.

Open Monday – Saturday; see site for opening hours and admission.

Actress Lillian Gish in a Fortuny Delphos gown, circa 1910s.

Fortuny Delphos gown against a backdrop of Fortuny fabric, Vogue 15 December 1935/Photo by Lusha Nelson, © Condé Nast publications; Countess Elsie Lee Gozzi wearing a Fortuny Eleanora dress, 1920s/Photo by Edward Thaver Monroe, courtesy of Riad Family. W magazine.

Three adoptive daughters of dancer Isadora Duncan in Fortuny Delphos gowns; L to R: Lisa, Anna, & Margot, circa 1920s. 

A Delphos gown, circa 1920s.

L to R, courtesy of the Metropolitan Museum of Art’s Costume Institute:  Evening dress circa 1920, Tea Gown circa 1930-32

Close-ups of various Fortuny Delphos gowns, demonstrating the his signature mushroom pleating, hand-drawn labels, glass bead weights, and medieval closures.

L to R, courtesy of the Metropolitan Museum of Art’s Costume Institute: Evening coat 1920sEvening ensemble 1927, Evening ensemble 1949

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