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Richard Doty

Joanna Davis
IU Art Museum

Last modified: Thursday, September 26, 2002

First retrospective on career of fashion designer Bill Blass to open at IU Art Museum

Gowns worn by former first lady Nancy Reagan and singers Aretha Franklin and Whitney Houston will be on display in the upcoming Indiana University exhibition highlighting the career of internationally-known fashion designer Bill Blass.

"Bill Blass: An American Designer" is the theme for the show at the IU Art Museum that will open on Oct. 5 and be on view through Dec. 17. The museum, located at 1133 E. Seventh St. on the Bloomngton campus, is open to the public free of charge Tuesday through Saturday from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. and Sunday from noon to 5 p.m. It is closed on Monday.

An opening reception is planned for Oct. 4 at 6:30 p.m. at the museum. A Web site created for the show is at

Blass, who died in June at age 79, was from Fort Wayne, Ind. He made arrangements several months ago for the show that spans his career in the fashion design industry. Included in this first retrospective of his career will be some of the most important ensembles he designed and sketches from his career from the archives of Bill Blass Ltd., Indiana University's Elizabeth Sage Historic Costume Collection, the Indianapolis Museum of Art, the Metropolitan Museum of Art, celebrity friends and devoted customers. The exhibit will include more than 100 ensembles that represent his 50-year career as one of America's leading fashion designers.

IU Professor Kathleen Rowold, director of apparel merchandising and curator of the Sage Collection, is the curator of the Blass exhibit.

A catalogue featuring childhood drawings, sketches and more than 250 of Blass' most important ensembles has just been published by Abrams to accompany this retrospective. Many of the items featured in the book are part of the show at IU. The book will be available for purchase at the exhibition.

The museum is presenting the show in conjunction with IU's historic Sage Collection. This involves some 19,000 items that focus on dress and adornment as elements of art, material culture, social history and high fashion.

For more information on the Blass exhibit, contact Joanna Davis at the IU Art Museum at 812-855-5445 or The museum's Web site is at