A seated lunch with wine is catered by Diane Browne.
The keynote address proposes to analyze the sack dress within the context of American fashion during the fall of 1957 and spring of 1958. The modern garment, featuring an undefined waistline that abstracted the female body beneath, was both extremely popular and extremely controversial. The uproar against the style has become legendary, but to term the style a failure glosses over a more nuanced trajectory of 1950s styles, and the legacy the sack dress actually established for Western women’s fashion. In hindsight the arguments against the sack centered around gendered expectations of how a woman was supposed to appear in her clothes. Through an understanding of the precedents, timeline, and reactions to the garment, as well as a material culture analysis, Lazaro’s talk contextualizes both the sack’s moment in dress history as well as its legacy and contribution to 20th-century fashion.
David E. (Ned) Lazaro is the Associate Curator of Costume and Textiles at the Wadsworth Atheneum in Hartford, Connecticut. He holds a master’s degree from the University of Massachusetts, Amherst. Ned has researched, lectured, published, and taught on various aspects of Western clothing and textiles from the 17th through 21st centuries. His research focuses on design history, the aesthetics and sensory experiences of fashion, and identity formation.