Dec 6, 2008


On exhibit now at the Textilmuseet in Borås, Sweden, is a remarkable collection of dresses by Danish designer, Anne Damgaard, who won the Nordic Award in Textiles for 2008. Damgaard's dresses could be classified as conceptual because of their references to armour, protection, nudity, and cheeky functionalism. But the thing that makes Damgaard's work great -- and rare in the realm of conceptual fashion -- is the mastery of her draping. Her dresses "do" things, by virtue of material techniques and tailoring, not whiz bang gadgetry or battery packs. These frocks are feminine and fantastic, with conceptual cred and real-world wearability (by real-world punk super-hero warrior-princesses).

Damgaard uses Rigilene boning masterfully to sculpt light fabrics into unusual shapes with retaining memory, as well as for decorative effect. Many of her dresses are, in effect, post-modern corsets turned inside out, and become expressive versus repressive.

Her "soft" dresses use continuous, rectangular strips of sheer organza and gauze, folded, draped, twisted, and tacked (in an haute couture reference to DNA folding?) to create elegant fitted lines. And she achieves frothy colors by layering sheers -- a textile equivalent of painters' glazing -- and lots of contrast stitching.

Importantly, Damgaard has a sense of humor about functionalism, as in this see-thru "Rose" dress, with décolleté bud vase.