Gilbert Adrian (1903–1959) became a costume designer at Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer Studios in 1928. He designed for more than 250 films, including classics such as The Wizard of Oz. In 1942, he opened his own fashion salon in Beverly Hills. Adrian: Hollywood and Beyond examines his innovative use of textiles as both a costume and a fashion designer. Drawing on a variety of techniques, Adrian built dynamic garments that not only celebrated fabric but made it integral to their design.
This exhibition explores Adrian’s work through two categories of technique: construction and textile design. Mitering was a favorite technique of Adrian’s and can be seen best in his suits. His use of whimsical prints made both his day and his evening wear stand out from the work of his contemporaries. In one extraordinary example — and the star of the exhibition — Adrian cleverly elevated a Wesley Simpson pr int of a Salvador Dalí illustration into a dazzling evening gown.
The first part of the exhibition serves as an introduction to these concepts. Five textiles, highlighting pr int techniques, have been paired with advertisements featuring finished gar ments. In addition, two suit jackets illustrate Adrian’s construction and tailoring skills. In the final section, nine garments showcase the combined methods and craftsmanship of a designer who was both an artist and an engineer, whether designing for a movie star or the American woman.