‘Truly a piece of art’: Red pleated dress by artist on display at Smithsonian

By LIZ BECKERLE, AP WriterThe Smithsonian Institution on Monday announced the completion of a project to restore and display the iconic red pleats from the late 1800s and early 1900s in its new collection, “Truly A Piece of Art,” to celebrate the 20th anniversary of the garment’s first showing in New York City.

The project includes a red-and-white gown worn by one of the first female models of the era, the fashion icon Annie Lee.

“The dress is the first garment that is truly a piece,” museum chief curator Deborah Stier said in a statement.

“As we work to showcase this garment in new and innovative ways, we want to recognize the power of the dress to tell a story about a time and place.”

The gown was designed by British artist William Mougayar, a longtime friend and collaborator of Mays, the British designer who inspired the look.

He and Mays first collaborated in the late 1820s on the designs for an 1851 silk gown for the royal wedding of Queen Victoria.

Mougák also designed the gowns for the 1893 New York World’s Fair, the 1893 World’s Exposition, and the 1904 New York State Fair, as well as the “Sophie and the Chocolate Factory” series of couture prints.

“This is a special occasion for the Smithsonian Institution and the American public to share a shared history with a new and powerful piece of contemporary art,” Stier added.

The dress will be on display through Oct. 31.