Madonna is raiding her own closets to boost her Material Girl juniors line at Macy’s.
The pop star is loaning some of her most iconic costumes from over the years for a special one-night-only exhibit at the Macy’s Century City location in Los Angeles on Thursday. On display for just two hours, from 6 p.m. to 8 p.m. that night in the Material Girl shop will be seminal outfits such as the Jean Paul Gaultier-designed corsets from the 1990 “Blonde Ambition” concert tour and the shimmering, beaded white Bob Mackie gown she poured herself into for the 1991 Academy Awards, accessorizing for the night with a fox fur stole and Michael Jackson.
This story first appeared in the April 22, 2013 issue of WWD. Subscribe Today.
“The pop-up exhibit at Macy’s perfectly exemplifies the inspiration and spirit of the Material Girl line and will give my fans a great opportunity to see the evolution of my style over the years,” Madonna told WWD.
She chose the outfits herself for the tightly edited exhibit, with an assist from her longtime stylist and costume designer Arianne Phillips, who is overseeing its installation at Macy’s. It’s the first time Madonna has loaned out pieces from her own archives for a public display dedicated solely to her costume history. Previous shows, such as a retrospective called “Simply Madonna” that ran in London in 2009 and Australia in 2010, featured pieces owned by collectors.
Madonna has previously lent pieces for the Gaultier exhibit, “The Fashion World of Jean Paul Gaultier: From The Sidewalk To The Catwalk,” that has been making the rounds of museums in Montreal, Dallas and Amsterdam over the past two years. That show is currently at the Kunsthal in Rotterdam and Madonna’s costumes have been pulled from it temporarily and flown to Los Angeles for the Macy’s installation.
Some of the looks that will be on view date back to a time when the teenage customers of the fast-fashion Material Girl line were not yet born. Their mothers may be more appreciative of the printed neon green stretch skirt she wore in the 1984 “Borderline” video. The design was a collaboration between designer Vivienne Westwood and artist Keith Haring, a close friend of Madonna’s who died from AIDS in 1990.
Also from the Eighties will be the black satin bustier with gold nipple caps and tassels from the “Open Your Heart” video. Phillips called this early corset look of Madonna’s “the genesis of the provocateur” in the pop star. “The theatrical nature of this costume shows the beginning of Madonna’s love for corsetry, taking an undergarment normally hidden, reinventing it with embellishments and exposing it,” she explained.
Perhaps Madonna’s single-most famous look in the exhibit dates back to 1984, when she donned a wedding dress and rolled around the floor of the MTV Video Music Awards to sing “Like a Virgin.” The entire ensemble — which was also worn for the song’s album cover and is on loan from the Hard Rock company — will be shown, including a white lace corset, white tulle skirt with dot motif, white tulle veil, white lace fingerless gloves and a silver “Boy Toy” belt.
“This was one of the most shocking, liberating and influential moments in pop culture and fashion history,” said Phillips of the MTV performance.
A more recent outfit selected by Madonna for the exhibit is the opening “Vogue” look from her 2004 “Re-Invention” tour, comprised of a pale purple beaded silk corset by Christian Lacroix, a black polyester bra by Fantasie of England and black spandex boy shorts by Capezio.
Phillips dubbed Madonna’s partnerships with Gaultier “collaborations that would become legendary.” While the singer has worked with a host of designers over the years, including Dolce & Gabbana, DSquared2 and Riccardo Tisci, her work with Gaultier has been particularly impactful. Two corset looks from 1990’s “Blonde Ambition” tour make the exhibit: a pink silk satin bodysuit with conical bust cups, paired with black pinstripe dress pants, which was worn for the opening “Express Yourself” number, and a gold lamé version, also with conical bust cups, worn for “Like a Virgin.”
“It’s a magical thing to bring all these iconic pieces together in one place,” said Dari Marder, chief marketing officer at Iconix Brand Group, which is Madonna’s partner in Material Girl, selling it into 600 Macy’s doors currently. “This will show customers how influential Madonna has been to fashion and how that influences Material Girl today.”