Hyperfeminine looks define a fashion exhibition that pivots on fun

The Blonds’ designs on view at SCAD FASH outfit divas and scene-stealers in glittery style.
The latest SCAD FASH exhibition "The Blonds" has the glitz and glamor of a Vegas production or a '70s-era rock opera.
(Courtesy of SCAD FASH Museum of Fashion + Film)

Credit: Colin Douglas Gray

Credit: Colin Douglas Gray

The latest SCAD FASH exhibition "The Blonds" has the glitz and glamor of a Vegas production or a '70s-era rock opera. (Courtesy of SCAD FASH Museum of Fashion + Film)

Many of the past designers shown at SCAD FASH Museum of Fashion + Film — Oscar de la Renta, Guo Pei, Carolina Herrera — have created clothes destined for the Oscar red carpet or Manhattan society events. Worn by movie stars and ladies-who-lunch, those looks skew elegant and expensive.

“The Blonds: Glamour, Fashion, Fantasy,” the current exhibition at SCAD FASH, features clothing made for a very different customer; creatures of the night, the club and the concert stage more inclined to shock, delight and titillate than impress.

Phillipe (left) and David Blond are New York-based designers who call themselves "The Blonds" and are known for their outrageous, showbiz-y fashion creations for Katie Perry, Beyonce, Madonna and others.
(Courtesy of SCAD FASH Museum of Fashion + Film / Mike Ruiz)

Credit: Mike Ruiz

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Credit: Mike Ruiz

Sleek and airbrushed, David and Phillipe Blond, as they are known, look like a downtown version of Barbie and Ken. The pair met at the New York City nightclub the Roxy when they were just teens. They launched their fashion brand in 2006 and are still creating the kind of looks that might show up on a nightclub dance floor.

Designers and romantic partners, they have created a personal brand centered on airbrushed perfection, fierce style, platinum blond locks and equally memorably clothing. Phillipe is the house model, a leggy, svelte 5-foot-9, size 0 vixen who often walks in the duos’ runway shows and embodies supermodel fierceness.

The Blonds signature style is vampy and inflected with humor. Their runway shows (excerpted in video footage on view) are theatrical affairs featuring drag queens, gender-bending models and outré celebs like Paris Hilton. A signature Blonds look from the spring/summer 2017 collection: a cat suit with one bare shoulder and a necklace collar whose glittering silver mosaic fabric suggests a human disco ball. To capitalize on the reflective properties of their clothing, lighting has been strategically placed throughout the SCAD exhibition to send shards of light bouncing off of dresses, capes and pantsuits in a display of fashion pyrotechnics. Crystals, sequins, rhinestones, paillettes and other glittery surfaces abound in clothing that demands to be activated on the dance floor or concert stage.

A sampling of some of the colorful, bedazzled, ultra-feminine garments featured in the exhibition “The Blonds: Glamour, Fashion, Fantasy” at SCAD FASH.
(Courtesy of SCAD FASH Museum of Fashion + Film)

Credit: Colin Douglas Gray

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Credit: Colin Douglas Gray

In “Glamour, Fashion, Fantasy” no visual is too over the top, no heel too high, no hair too teased. It’s no wonder performers like Madonna, Beyoncé and Nicki Minaj gravitate to the spangly, sparkly Blonds look. The silhouette is extreme with an emphasis on wasp waists, mermaid hair, towering stilettos and a look that captures attention even in an enormous concert stadium.

Fantasy with a touch of camp is a constant in 80 garments on view which often play with a flirtatious, outrageous vision of femininity indebted to drag queens, S&M, Barbie, Vegas show girls, ‘70s glam rock and classic Hollywood style.

A sultry number from the fall/winter 2023 collection is typical of the high-octane, attention-grabbing glamor that defines the Blonds look. The two piece top and skirt set has an “Arabian Nights”-meets-”I Dream of Jeannie” vibe, its bralette top accented by an enormous emerald the size of a toaster. The matching navel-baring skirt is also ornamented with a giant jewel. Long opera gloves and thigh high boots combined with cleavage, bare stomachs and plenty of skin give a winking striptease blend of revelation and modesty to much of the clothing on display. It’s not surprising that neo-burlesque performer Dita Von Teese, draped in pearls and bedazzled starfish, has been dressed by the duo.

One of the glittering, body-conscious designs featured in the SCAD FASH exhibition "The Blonds: Glamour, Fashion, Fantasy."
(Courtesy of SCAD FASH Museum of Fashion + Film)

Credit: Colin Douglas Gray

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Credit: Colin Douglas Gray

“The Blonds” is delicious and decadent but can feel a little lacking in anything more than surface flash. In general, media coverage of the Blonds tends toward breathless and effusive which feels like an extension of their brand. There is a dearth of information about fabrics, construction, embellishment and inspiration for key looks on view, unless you are able to commandeer a roving docent to give you more information. But as it is, “The Blonds” is a lot of seductive surface but could have profited from more in-depth and accessible information about the clothes and the mission beyond the sizzle.


ART REVIEW

“The Blonds: Glamour, Fashion, Fantasy”

Through Jan. 28. 10 a.m.-5 p.m. Tuesdays-Saturdays; noon-5 p.m. Sundays. $10; $8 seniors/military; $20 family of three or more; $5 college students with ID and alumni; free for under age 14, SCAD students, staff, faculty and members. SCAD FASH Museum of Fashion + Film, 1600 Peachtree St. NW, Atlanta. 404-253-3132, scadfash.org.

Bottom line: Fun but shallow, this look at the glittery, campy designs from the NYC-designer duo David and Phillipe Blond is an entertaining eyeful that lacks much context or substance.

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