Special Exhibitions Gallery
August 6 - November 28, 2021
Ravishing: The Rose in Fashion presents the first socio-cultural examination of the rose in fashion. This flower can be dated back over 3 million years, and its broad geographic sweep is entwined with stories of trade, immigration, politics, religion, gender, food, beauty, and identity. It has been worshipped and reviled, and it is inextricably linked to perceptions of love. Not surprisingly, this delicate and fragrant flower — as well its sharp thorns — have provided endless inspiration for artists, writers, and designers. The rose has greatly influenced the form and decoration of apparel, jewelry, and fashion imagery.
Ravishing explores the significance of the rose in fashion and dressed appearance from circa 1750 to the present. More than seventy-five objects have been selected for their historic and aesthetic significance in addition to their broader symbolic, socio-economic, and geo-political importance. The exhibition is curated by Amy de la Haye, Rootstein Hopkins Chair of Dress History and Curatorship and Joint Director of the Centre for Fashion Curation at London College of Fashion, and Colleen Hill, curator of costume and accessories at The Museum at FIT.
The exhibition is accompanied by a related virtual fashion sympoiusum that was held on April 30, as well as the Yale University Press publication The Rose in Fashion: Ravishing which includes an introduction by MFIT Director and Chief Curator Dr. Valerie Steele, and a chapter by Colleen Hill. This blog post by Amy de la Haye gives readers a taste of the book and offers a free extract of Chapter IV – “The Rose: The Unfading Flower of Jewellery” by Geoffrey Munn.Image: Charles James, debutante dress, 1937, USA, Gift of Mrs. John Hammond, 77.89.3.
The Roaring Twenties and The Swinging Sixties explores the similarities in women’s fashion across these two decades. Object pairings with direct visual connections highlight the parallels in high fashion that were inspired by the revolutionary spirits of modernity during the 1920s and 1960s. The exhibition examines these similarities through six thematic sections: Twenties Nostalgia, Dreams and Discontent, Obsession with Youth, Music Mania, Cultural Appropriation, and Mode and Modernity. Like both eras, movements for social justice and racial and gender equality have characterized 2020. The exhibition invites the audience to contemplate the effects of today’s events on fashion and how the resulting designs might compare to those of the 1920s and 1960s.
Other online content!
Explore some past exhibitions online in the gallery above or via the links to the
With more than 50,000 objects in our collection, MFIT curator’s are bound to have a few favorites! Visit the pages below to see each curator’s selections.
curator of education and research
curator of costume and accessories
senior curator of costume