"I Do

Indianapolis Museum of Art

Through 2007

From sensual, soft and elegant, to vibrant, vivid and exotic, I Do: The Marriage of Fashion and Art at the Indianapolis Museum of Art surveys the delicate balance between fashion and art in the bridal traditions, dresses and furnishings.

In all, 15 Western gowns from America and England adorn the first gallery. Whimsical, soft and succulent, Christian Lacroxx’s “Wedding Cake” dress from 1951 is a standout piece. Silk and lace ruffles delicately dance around the bell-shaped skirt and halter top of the dress, creating illusionary layers of fluffy icing trim. Indicative of the ’50s style, this wedding gown is different than most of the other wedding dresses as this dress is knee-length, distinctly shaped and playful.

Also on display are a set of distinct flapper wedding gowns from the roaring ’20s — the tubular shapes of the dresses are unmistakably swinging. One dress from 1925 is made from silk velvet, chiffon satin, linen lace, silk net and adorned with glass pearls. The crushed velvet clings to the body in a soft and subtle way as a fabulously intricate belt plunges across the shapelessly tubular dress.

One of the most traditional of the Western gowns, Caroline Ella Buford Danner’s dress is on display from her wedding in 1906 at the Buford Mansion on North Meridian in Indianapolis, Ind. The dress is classically silk satin, silk chiffon, silk net with linen needle lace, seed pearls and glass beads. Panels of lace and the soft fabric flow and billow down the dress and a large train brings up the rear. Almost peach in color, this dress is sumptuous and ornate — classically refined.

As you step into the next gallery, you switch hemispheres and the pure white hues are replaced with deep, dark and rich color. The sights and sounds of Eastern traditions are juxtaposed with the simple and pure palette of the Western tradition. Signs of fertility, longevity and femininity are brilliantly strewn throughout the fabrics. A Buddhist temple altar cloth from 1806 is brilliantly plush and rich as bamboo shoots across a serene blue backdrop. Warm orange and gold spill through the lines as gold threads ornately highlight the natural curves of the shoots.

A beaded bodice for both man and woman are on display from the Dinka people in Sudan. Brilliant glass beads, cowrie shells and metal wire intricately drape across the body to form the bodice, and are worn by women and men who are eligible for marriage.

At the conclusion of the exhibit, guests are invited to touch the fabrics and explore the messages of the different types of cloth. In addition, Moroccan, Jewish, Christian, Afrocentric, Indian, Persian, Korean and Wodaabe ceremonies are on screen for viewers.

The Western gowns will be on view through Feb. 25, 2007, and the Asian and African wedding garments will be on view through April 22, 2007, in the Paul Fashion Arts and Paul Textile Arts Galleries of the IMA, 4000 Michigan Road. For information, call 317-923-1331.