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Past Exhibitions 2008-09

Fashion and Politics
Gothic: Dark Glamour
Isabel Toledo: Fashion From the Inside Out
Muriel King: Artist of Fashion
Seduction

Fashion & Politics
July 7 through November 7, 2009

Featuring over one hundred costumes, textiles and accessories, Fashion & Politics examined the rich history of politics in fashion.  The exhibition's introductory gallery explored the theme of American nationalism and features a woman's costume, circa 1889, printed with an American flag motif, as well as Catherine Malandrino's iconic Flag Dress, worn by numerous celebrities and socialites to express patriotism after 9/11, and then again in response to the 2008 elections.  Also featured was an "IKE" dress from the 1956 Eisenhower Campaign, a "NIXON" paper dress, and memorabilia from the historic 2008 presidential elections.

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“American Flag” costume, printed cotton, circa 1889, USA, gift of Stephen de Pietri. Photograph by Irving Solero.
   
Isabel Toledo Isabel Toledo: Fashion from the Inside Out
June 17 through September 26, 2009

The Cuban-born fashion designer Isabel Toledo is often described as "a designer's designer." Although she is little known to the general public, her work is greatly admired by members of the fashion community. As the late fashion journalist Amy Spindler once wrote, "Only great designers can dispense with themes and theatrics and let the work speak instead. Ms. Toledo does just that, letting fashion itself be the theme."

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Blossom Sleeve bolero and Balloon dress, Spring/summer 2005, garnet silk paper taffeta, chiffon. Photograph by William Palmer.
   

muriel king
Muriel King: Artist of Fashion
March 10 – April 4, 2009

King’s unique sense of pragmatic luxury brought immediate success, and her motto of “cautious daring” made her a favorite among America’s socialites. King’s separates and day-into-evening clothes provided versatility and value.

Muriel King: Artist of Fashion focuses on the artistry of King’s designs and seeks to define her contribution to the history of American fashion. She debuted as a designer in 1932, when she not only opened her own New York couture salon, but also entered into a licensing partnership with the retailer Lord & Taylor. For private couture clients, she created exclusive, one-of- a-kind garments, while at Lord & Taylor she offered select ready-to-wear designs.

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Watercolor on paper, 1936, Muriel King Archive, Special Collections The Gladys Marcus Library, FIT
   
Seduction
December 9, 2008 through June 16, 2009

Seduction is traditionally defined as an act of temptation and enticement, often sexual in nature. Throughout history, men and women have utilized seductive clothing to enhance physical attractiveness, as well as to convey a sense of power and social status. Seduction, the first chronological survey to explore 250 years of sexuality in fashion, examined the complex relationship between seduction and clothing, presenting a visual history of sexuality, moral standards, and social norms – all observed through the prism of fashion. At least seventy looks and forty accessories were featured, including a black satin Belle Époque corset, red satin Manolo Blahnik stilettos, and a skintight black leather evening gown by John Galliano for Christian Dior.

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Halston evening dress, light blue silk jersey, circa 1972, USA, gift of Lauren Bacall. Photograph by Irving Solero.
   
Gothic: Dark Glamour Gothic: Dark Glamour
September 5, 2008 through February 21, 2009

“Gothic” is an epithet that evokes images of death, destruction, and decay.  Such negative connotations have made the gothic an ideal symbol of rebellion for a wide range of cultural outsiders. From its origins in 18th century gothic literature of terror to its contemporary manifestations in vampire literature and cinema, the gothic has embraced the powers of horror and the erotic macabre.  Throughout its history, fashion has been central to our vision of the gothic. More than 75 ensembles were on display in a theatrical mise-en-scene, suggesting iconic gothic settings, such as the labyrinth, the ruined castle and the laboratory.  Although popularly identified with black-clad teenagers and rock musicians, gothic fashion was represented in this exhibition with looks by designers such as Alexander McQueen, John Galliano of Christian Dior, Rick Owens, Gareth Pugh, Anne Demeulemeester, Anna Sui, Olivier Theyskens, Ricardo Tischi of Givenchy, Jun Takahashi of Undercover, and Yohji Yamamoto, as well as sub-cultural styles, such as “old-school goth,” cyber-goth, and the Japanese look of Elegant Gothic Lolitas. 

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Sean Ellis Photograph courtesy Sean Ellis / www.theofficelondon.com
 

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