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"" Wood Carlson Co., tailcoat, black wool, 1935, USA, gift of Kay Kerr Uebel, 89.65.9
Gown, metallic, silk, circa 1935, USA, gift of Mrs. Jessie L. Hill, 93.71.12

Elegance in an Age of Crisis: Fashions of the 1930s 

Special Exhibitions Gallery
February 7 - April 19, 2014
Online Exhibition

Despite a dire financial and political environment, the 1930s was a period of great stylistic achievement and technical innovation in design. In contrast to the preceding Edwardian era - in which stiff, structured clothes dominated high fashion – 1930s garments were softer, minimally ornamented, elegantly proportioned, and reflected the streamlined art moderne aesthetic. Presenting both men’s and women’s fashions, Elegance in an Age of Crisis: Fashions of the 1930s celebrates some of the most innovative and beautifully designed clothing made in the twentieth century.

Elegance in an Age of Crisis reveals the grand transformation that took place in women’s and men’s fashion. A synthesis of cutting-edge technology and the finest hand-craftsmanship was necessary to forge a truly modern aesthetic in clothing. Significant advances in dressmaking and tailoring techniques helped achieve truly “modern” clothing, one that allowed for movement and highlighted the “natural,” well-proportioned, and classically idealized body. Technical innovations in textile production transformed what was possible for designers: wider width fabrics, for example, gave dressmakers a means to rethink and refine draping techniques, while featherweight textiles lent garments new suppleness and flexibility. Even the look and feel of many sports clothes, such as swimwear, underwent profound change due to the creation of new synthetic materials.

The look of the 1930s was an international phenomenon. Menswear tailoring innovations in London and Naples paralleled breakthroughs in haute couture draping in Paris as well as custom design in New York, Havana, and Shanghai. Hollywood, too, played a role in defining and popularizing this glamorous new look. Clothing made in these cities for clients from the United States, Latin American, Europe, and Asia is on view in the exhibition.

This exhibition is organized by Patricia Mears, deputy director of The Museum at FIT, and G. Bruce Boyer, leading menswear writer and editor. A publication accompanies the exhibition, edited by exhibition curator Patricia Mears and published by Yale University Press.

Learn more on the exhibition page

"" Camouflage print silk dress, 2002.15.1, John Galliano for Christian Dior, Spring 2001, France, Museum Purchase.


Fashion & Textile History Gallery
December 3, 2013 - April 30, 2014
Online Exhibition Website

Trend-ology examines the vast array of sources from which fashion trends have developed over the past 250 years. Trends have emerged from high fashion runways and urban street style, but they have also derived from art, music, novels, and socio-political movements. Particular trends change every season, but the phenomenon of the trend has come to define the modern fashion system itself.

The word “trend” first arose as an economic term, used to describe shifts in financial markets. Today, “trend” appears on the cover of almost every fashion magazine each month, and seemingly anything can be said to be “trending” on Twitter and other social media websites. Trend-forecasting companies such as WGSN have made researching and predicting trends a profitable business, and are now integral to the fashion industry. Yet as we move further into the 21st century, specific trends seem increasingly hard to define. The advent of fast-fashion, the internet, and social media have created a global environment where fashion trends emerge and disseminate in faster and more complex ways than ever before. By looking back at the multifaceted and dynamic history of trends, Trend-ology aims to help visitors gain insight into the current state of the trend cycle.

Curated by Emma McClendon and Ariele Elia, the exhibition features over 100 objects from the Museum’s costume, accessory, and textile collections. Themes highlighted include 18th-century court dress, the rise of the couturier in 19th-century Paris, hip hop fashion, and more recent developments related to blogging, fast fashion, and social-media networking. The show features designs by Christian Dior, Yves Saint Laurent, Rei Kawakubo, Jean Paul Gaultier, Helmut Lang, Martin Margiela, and Opening Ceremony, to name a few. Also on view is a video produced exclusively for Trend-ology, featuring interviews with fashion insiders Simon Doonan, Carol Lim of Opening Ceremony, and Kenzo, Saul Lopez Silva of WGSN, and many others.

Visit the exhibition page to learn more!

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