April 17 – August 8, 2010
"Fashion magazines create an image to which people feel they must conform but perhaps cannot," designer Michelle Berkowitz says. "Who would not rather be beautifully unique?"
Philadelphia native Michelle Annette Berkowitz studied at Drexel University and Moore College of Art and Design, followed by years of researching historical garments in the collections of museums such as the National Gallery of Art. Using antique fabrics and trim as well as period sewing techniques when appropriate, her gowns sometimes have modular components, like crinolines, underskirts, jackets and wraps that can be interchanged to create multiple and unique costumes. Berkowitz's design explorations also include millinery, beaded jewelry and sterling silver, and she has created a collection of original designs and restored antique apparel. Especially well-known in the region for evening gowns, her costume designs have appeared in various publications includingPhiladelphia Magazine and The New York Times. Her influences include the father of haute couture, Charles Frederick Worth; noted Philadelphia milliner, Alzie Jackson, whose hats were exhibited at the Philadelphia Museum of Art in 1993; and the renowned designer Judith Leiber.
Organized by the Michener Art Museum's associate curator of exhibitions, Erika Jaeger-Smith, this exhibit of select contemporary costumes presented a counterpart to the concurrent exhibition Icons of Costume.