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Cello Jacket, 1981, by Ronaldus Shamask (Photograph by Harlan Kayden)

Cello Jacket, 1981, by Ronaldus Shamask (Photograph by Harlan Kayden)


Ronaldus Shamask: Form, Fashion, Reflection

October 6, 2012–March 10, 2013

In the late 1970s and early 1980s, Ronaldus Shamask (American, born Netherlands 1945) burst onto the runway with thoughtfully spare, minimalist works during a time of buoyant excess. Disregarding trends, Shamask drew on his background in illustration, architecture, theater, and dance as well as collaborations with choreographers and artists to create a timeless body of work that paved the way for the minimalist fashions of today. This exhibition includes iconic Shamask clothing, as well as works made specifically for this presentation, including translucent paper renditions shown as mirror images of the garments to reveal form of construction. The installation also includes a "mood wall" that reimagines the artist's design process using fashion and dance costume sketches, fabrics, color swatches, and visual references that serve as his inspiration. Video clips from fashion shows and dance performances showcase his costumes and collaborative work undertaken with artists such as Jennifer Bartlett, Arman, and Michele Oka Doner.

Shamask's work is celebrated for its clean lines, where color choice and seaming form the only decorative elements. The limitations he sets for himself—focusing on cut, construction, the highest-quality cloth, and the elimination of extraneous elements—are the building blocks of his designs. Architecture, traditional Japanese clothing, and origami have all inspired his work. Among his innovative silhouettes are the Cello Jacket (1981) with a form that follows the instrument's curve and the Spiral Jacket (1981) cut from one piece of fabric and incorporating a continuously curving seam that mimics a lemon peel. An expert draper, Shamask creates designs influenced by dance and movement, as seen in Mondrian Meets Superman (spring/summer 2012), a cap-sleeved, V-neck-back dress color blocked in four quadrants of red, yellow, blue, and white that is fitted through the bodice and flows out with a mid-calf handkerchief hem.

Main Building


Dilys Blum, The Jack M. and Annette Y. Friedland Senior Curator of Costume and Textiles

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