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Past Exhibitions


1997 Martin Margiela linen tunic with dress form lettering printed on the front
Image: Maison Martin Margiela, tunic, linen, spring 1997, Belgium, museum purchase.
The Body: Fashion and Physique
Fashion & Textile History Gallery
December 5, 2017 – May 5, 2018
Online Exhibition

Fashion is inextricably linked to the physical form of the wearer. The cut of a garment draws the eye to zones of the body, simultaneously accentuating and concealing in order to achieve a desired silhouette. Elaborate undergarments, diet regimens, exercise routines, and even plastic surgery have all been promoted as necessary tools for attaining the ideal fashion shape. However, the idealized fashionable body is a cultural construct. Over the last 250 years, full hips, narrow hips, feminine waists, and boyish frames have each, at different times, been hailed as the pinnacle of beauty. According to a Vogue article from 1950, “A ‘figure’…is considered good or bad only as related to clothing generally, and current fashions specifically.” The Body: Fashion and Physique — curated by Emma McClendon — explored the complex history of the “perfect” body in fashion.

This exhibition examined the broader relationship between the fashion industry and body politics from the nineteenth century to the present. 50 objects from the collection of The Museum at FIT were on view, alongside clippings, photographs, and videos from the popular press. The Body: Fashion and Physique elucidated the impact the fashion industry has had on how people have viewed and treated their bodies throughout history. It also considered how fashion has contributed to the marginalization of certain body types within our culture.

Read more about The Body: Fashion and Physique.


1958 Norman Norell for Traina-Norell, light brown subway coat and dress
Image: Norman Norell for Traina-Norell, subway coat and dress, c.1958, gift of Lauren Bacall.
Norell: Dean of American Fashion
Special Exhibitions Gallery
February 9, 2018 – April 14, 2018
Online Exhibition

This large-scale retrospective presented an in-depth study of one of America’s greatest and most influential fashion designers. It was organized by guest curator Jeffrey Banks and MFITs deputy director Patricia Mears.

Born in 1900, Norman Norell had an extraordinary career that spanned six decades. Working in the theater, film, and fashion industries, he incorporated the highest quality couture construction techniques and workmanship in all of his designs. Norell won numerous industry awards and was the first American to launch his own perfume. Not only did he spearhead the concept of luxe ready-to-wear decades before his European contemporaries, but many of his classic works are still wearable today. Decades after his death, Norell’s legacy lives on.

Read more about Norell.


Detail, Bonnie Cashin, raincoat, green cotton canvas and leather, circa 1965, USA, museum purchase.
Image: Detail, Bonnie Cashin, raincoat, green cotton canvas and leather, circa 1965, USA, museum purchase.
Pockets to Purses: Fashion + Function
Gallery FIT
March 6, 2018 – March 31, 2018
Online Exhibition

Pockets and purses provide immediate access to personal possessions, satisfying the need to carry money and other useful objects. They can also display luxury or emphasize fashionable gestures. Pockets to Purses: Fashion + Function was organized by graduate students in FIT’s Fashion and Textile Studies program. The exhibition explored the history of pockets and purses as fashionable and functional objects that have evolved to accommodate the demands of modern life.

Arranged chronologically, a selection of objects from the collection of The Museum at FIT analyzed the interplay between pockets and purses in both men’s and women’s wardrobes from the eighteenth century to the present. Themes of public versus private, fashion versus function, and masculine versus feminine were explored through garments, accessories, fashion plates, and video footage. Highlights included an early nineteenth century reticule fashioned from a man’s waistcoat pocket, a 1930’s Cartier clutch, a Bonnie Cashin raincoat, and an Hermés Kelly Bag.

Pockets to Purses: Fashion + Function was the first exhibition to examine both men’s and women’s pockets and bags in tandem. It highlighted their overlapping history, clarifying the relationship between pocket and purse for a wide audience. The diversity of objects demonstrated how pockets and purses have been utilized throughout history and how lifestyle changes have affected their design and use. This exhibition encouraged visitors to see the significance of these familiar, but dynamic objects.

Read more about Pockets to Purses.


Image: 2017 Creative Technology and Design exhibition poster.
Image: 2017 Creative Technology and Design exhibition poster.
#EXPERIENCE – 2017 Creative Technology & Design Annual Exhibition
Gallery FIT
December 5, 2017 – January 6, 2018 

The third annual Creative Technology and Design exhibition, #EXPERIENCE, focused on the exploration of new possibilities in Experience Design. This exhibition showcased the most innovative design projects from FIT’s Creative Technology courses, such as Digital Typography, Content-centric App Design, Kinetic Typography, User Experience Design, and Design for Web-based Interface. 

The exhibition concept was conceived by the co-coordinators of the Creative Technology program, Christie Shin and C.J. Yeh. The call for submissions was announced in September 2017, and the jury panel reviewed more than 150 projects in order to select the best for the exhibition. The categories for submission included digital typography, content design, digital product design, interaction design, and user experience design. Every project in the exhibition demonstrated creative and innovative uses of Experience Design principles. To demonstrate the link between these student projects and current industry practices, selected professional projects from the alumni, faculty, and advisory board members of the program were also on view.




Image: John Cowan for Vogue, November 1964.
Image: John Cowan for Vogue, November 1964.
Expedition: Fashion from the Extreme
Special Exhibitions Gallery
September 15, 2017 – January 6, 2018
Exhibition Blog

Expedition: Fashion from the Extreme examined high fashion inspired by clothing made for survival in the most inhospitable environments on earth and beyond. Today’s luxurious parkas trace their roots to the “heroic era” of polar navigation (1890 to 1922), while down-filled “puffer” coats and backpacks were originally perfected for extreme mountain climbing in the mid-twentieth century. Experimental, high tech materials made for exploration to otherworldly realms — such as neoprene (deep sea) and Mylar (outer space) — made their way onto the runway.

Expeditions to these extreme environments were motivated primarily by interest in the natural world that flourished during the Victorian era. Thanks to the theoretical works of Charles Darwin and the wildly popular science fiction books by Jules Verne, expeditions became increasingly popular, aspirational endeavors.

On view in Expedition was a historical fur garment created in Siberia, as well as adaptations of indigenous Arctic clothing by the pioneering American explorer, Matthew Henson. Also included were the earliest down-filled jackets, dating to the 1930s, and other technologically experimental objects engineered for polar and mountain exploration. These expedition-worthy garments are placed alongside a range of fantastic and outrageous fashions from the 1960s, as well as a dramatic selection of contemporary designs.

Expedition: Fashion from the Extreme is also the title of the exhibition’s companion book, published by Thames & Hudson.

Read more about Expedition: Fashion from the Extreme.


Advertising Design exhibition 2017 poster courtesy of the Advertising Design program.
Image: Advertising Design exhibition 2017 poster courtesy of the Advertising Design program.
Gallery FIT
October 21 – November 18, 2017

According to creative legend Bill Bernbach, “Principles endure, formulas don’t. You must get attention to your ad. This is a principle that will always be true. How you get attention is a subtle, ever-changing thing.”

This exhibition of Advertising Design at FIT showcases the award winning work that garnered the attention of the creative professionals in the advertising industry.




Alexander McQueen, Plato’s Atlantis collection, Spring 2010, England, museum purchase.
Image: Alexander McQueen, Plato’s Atlantis collection, Spring 2010, England, museum purchase.
Force of Nature
Fashion & Textile History Gallery
May 30 – November 18, 2017
Online Exhibition

Force of Nature examined how the beauty and complexity of the natural world inspired fashion designers for centuries. The exhibition placed more than 95 objects from MFIT’s permanent collection, dating from the 18th century to the present, within a context of period philosophies and scientific literature in order to demonstrate the deep interconnectedness between fashion and nature.

A 1775 robe à l’anglaise with a naturalistic pattern of fruit and flowers, illustrated a movement towards simple dress, influenced by philosopher Jean Jacques Rousseau, who urged a return to nature. A dress by Alexander McQueen from his acclaimed final collection in 2010, presented a meditation upon Charles Darwin’s theory of evolution and concern over climate change.

More than a survey of flora, fauna, and geology as merely decorative, the exhibition revealed the natural world as a nexus of ideas and symbolism in fashion design. Force of Nature aimed to contribute to today’s important, ongoing conversation about society’s relationship with the natural world and humankind’s place within it.

Read more about Force of Nature.


Image: Master of Fine Arts in Illustration Thirteen Stories Exhibition 2017 Poster. Courtesy of the Master of Fine Arts in Illustration program.
Image: Courtesy of the textile/surface design department.
Crafting Change: New Textile Work by Students and Faculty
Gallery FIT
September 19 – September 30, 2017

The work of FIT students and faculty took center stage in the Gallery FIT exhibition Crafting Change. Organized by the textile/surface design department in conjunction with New York Textile Month, the works featured in Crafting Change used long-established techniques in a modern context to explore the shifting boundaries between art, design, and technology. Projects bridging science and textiles have the potential to revolutionize the fashion and textile industries, leading us to a more sustainable future. These works were promising examples of how FIT is successfully encouraging interdisciplinary mergers between craft, technology, and sustainability to usher textile arts into the 21st century.