Indianapolis Museum Honors Homegrown Designers Norman Norell, Bill Blass, Halston, and Stephen Sprouse

An installation view of "An American Legacy" at the Indianapolis Museum of Art
(Courtesy Indianapolis Museum of Art)

Indiana may be an ideal state for a sports enthusiast — the Indy 500 takes place in Indianapolis annually, and the Pacers and Colts call its capital city home. But what most people don’t know is that a handful of influential fashion designers spent their early years in the Hoosier State. The Indianapolis Museum of Art pays tribute to them with an exhibition titled “An American Legacy: Norell, Blass, Halston & Sprouse,” running from May 4 to January 27, 2013.

More than 50 garments spanning a half a century make up the show, consisting of pieces by Norman Norell, Bill Blass, Halston, and Stephen Sprouse. The items include a Blass gown created for first lady Nancy Reagan, as well as a Norell day dress worn by actress Betty Furness during the 1960 presidential convention. Andy Warhol also has a presence in the exhibition, through a 1972 Halston floor-length dress covered with Warhol’s “Flowers,” and a Warhol-inspired camouflage dress designed by Sprouse and worn by Blondie front woman Debbie Harry.

“Norell, Blass, Halston, and Sprouse influenced not only American fashion, but international style,” said Niloo Paydar, curator of fashion and textile arts at the IMA, in a press release. “The pieces in ‘An American Legacy’ were selected to represent the unique style of each designer, highlighting their individual artistic approaches and philosophies of decorating the human body.”

All four of the designers ended up leaving the Midwest for the country’s fashion capital, New York, living out the prime of their careers in the Big Apple. But we imagine that there must be something stylish in the Indiana water for the state to have spawned four great American fashion icons.

Click on the slide show to see highlights from “An American Legacy: Norell, Blass, Halston & Sprouse,” on display at the Indianapolis Museum of Art through January 27, 2013.