The Iconic Wrap Dress, Considered

A celebration of Diane Von Furstenberg's timeless frock is on at the May Company.

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    NEWSLETTERS

    Journey of a Dress
    Diane Von Furstenberg's famous wrap dress turns 40 in 2014. Look back at the style, and the designer who made it a fashion phenom, at the May Company.

    Frocks and fripperies catch fancies with admirable predictability in society, and thus is the way it has always been, since the invention of fashion. Or, perhaps, the invention of clothes, which happened a day or two before the invention of fashion, we imagine. (Just long enough for people to look at what they had on and wish it was slightly nicer.)

    But rare is a style of dress that's related to one figure and one figure alone. Flowers on hats? Frilly cuffs? Can you name the people who started those?

    Bet you know the designer behind the wrap dress, though. Diane Von Furstenberg was the comfort-seeking, style-desiring visionary behind the seen-everywhere-since-the-'70s look, and while decades pass, the wrap remains, as does Ms. Von Furstenberg's closet-cool legacy.

    The wrap dress is getting its 40th anniversary party in 2014, with a splashy sartorial soiree at the May Company at Wilshire Boulevard and Fairfax Avenue. The exhibit -- Journey of the Dress is its name -- sashays, catwalk-style, right through April 1, and both various iterations of the dress and the designer are twin focuses.

    In addition to the iconic wearable, which, you likely know, is a knee-ish length frock that ties to one side of the hip, exhibit goers will see portraits of Diane Von Furstenberg by artists such as Andy Warhol and Annie Leibovitz.

    The dress is billed as "a symbol of power and freedom for women," a sentence that holds a lot of fabric. Consider the highly constructed, pretty-but-fussy fashion that reigned for women prior to the '70s, especially those embarking upon careers, and then look at the wrap dress, a non-constricting construction that wasn't all that time-consuming to don and boasted a straight-forward and sophisticated air.

    Surely all pushers of the clothing envelope would hope that their design would dovetail with larger movements.

    Journey of the Dress is at the May Company Building through April 1, 2014.