He seemed to be the consummate New Yorker, who designed clothes for the consummate New York woman. But Bill Blass hailed from Fort Wayne, Indiana, and that’s why Indiana University-Bloomington is now presenting a retrospective called "Bill Blass: An American Designer." The exhibit, which opened Oct. 5 at the university’s I.M. Pei-designed art museum, features about 100 Blass ensembles, plus sketches and drawings. A red-satin ball skirt with a matching cashmere cardigan (buttoned backward) worn by Nancy Reagan in 1984; beaded Klimt- and Matisse-inspired jackets from the Eighties and Nineties, and a watermelon jacket socialite Lynn Wyatt wore in 1983 are among the iconic pieces in the show, said Kathleen Rowold, the curator of the Elizabeth Sage Historic Costume Collection at Indiana University. The pieces are on loan from Blass Ltd., the Costume Institute at the Metropolitan Museum of Art, the Indianapolis Museum of Art and several friends of Blass, Rowold said. From May 2001 until his death in June of this year, Blass was involved in the selection of every object in the display, Rowold said. She added that the designer was involved "in each page" of the exhibit catalog, which will be published by Abrams. The opening reception, held Oct. 4 at the museum, was an event Blass would not have missed. The VIP guest list included New York socialites Cynthia Boardman, Mica Ertegun, Casey Ribicoff and Blaine Trump. The exhibit runs until Dec. 17. For more information, call (812) 855-4826, or visit the museum’s Web site at indiana.edu/~iuam/.

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