PROVIDENCE, R.I. (AP) — Todd Oldham may have left fashion behind nearly 20 years ago, but an upcoming exhibit will celebrate the multidisciplinary designer’s enduring sense of style.
“All of Everything: Todd Oldham Fashion” is scheduled to open next spring at the Rhode Island School of Design Museum. It’s the first solo museum exhibition to focus on the designer’s runway opus of the 1990s. It will feature nearly 70 ensembles, many of which were last seen on supermodels like Naomi Campbell and Christy Turlington.
Oldham and RISD collaborated to make the pieces new again, mixing seasons and years to create a fresh point of view.
“I said, ‘Why don’t we try to look at how this stuff works together?’ It’s not a season; it’s 10 years of stuff,” Oldham said. “It worked beautifully.”
Oldham arrived on the fashion scene in 1989 and gained recognition for his colorful designs and handcrafted textiles. The Nueces County, Texas, native was featured prominently on MTV’s “House of Style,” hosted by Cindy Crawford, where he gave viewers tips on everything from thrift shopping to reupholstering furniture.
He left the industry a decade later to pursue other creative projects, including his arts and crafts line Kid Made Modern, and he often gives lectures at RISD, which awarded him an honorary doctorate last year.
For the upcoming show, Oldham is designing one new dress, made from textiles he and his RISD students made in a class last spring.
“We’re still working on it because it’s got a ton of elaborate embroidery,” he said.
Known for his playful point of view, Oldham said shifting back into fashion design was easy because he has the same spirit no matter what he’s working on.
“I wouldn’t in any way say it ignited a desire to return to this industry,” he added with a laugh.
The idea for the exhibit came about last year, while Oldham was touring the RISD museum. Curator Kate Irvin was installing some 1920s beaded dresses that immediately caught the eye of the designer, known for his own highly embellished textiles.
Irvin, the museum’s costume and textiles curator, said Oldham’s designs are striking in person.
“The significance is what a thoughtful artist and maker he is, and that comes through when you see these pieces,” she said.
And while some of the pieces are more than 20 years old, they don’t seem dated, Irvin said.
“It wasn’t made in the ’90s with the idea that this is the fashion trend for the season, and I think that will come through when we put these pieces on display in 2016,” she said.
Oldham is giving many of his designs to RISD, and a few will be on loan from the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York City for the show.
Meanwhile, Oldham said he continues to be inspired by passion, singularity — and free-thinkers.
“Those are usually the things that startle me in great ways more than anything else,” he said. “Frankly, I think Miley Cyrus is astonishing.”
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