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Upcoming Exhibitions

multicolor stephen burrows coatdress fall 1970 in black fashion designers at museum at fit
Black Fashion Designers 
Fashion & Textile History Gallery
December 6, 2016 – May 16, 2017 

Black Fashion Designers examines the impact made by designers of African American descent on the world of fashion. Drawing exclusively from The Museum at FIT’s permanent collection, the exhibition features approximately 75 fashion objects that illustrate the individual styles of more than 60 designers, placing them within a wider fashion context. Objects date from the 1950s to the present, including mid-century evening gowns by Anne Lowe and the jovial, yet controversial, work of Patrick Kelly from the 1980s. Contemporary pieces include Lagos-based designer Maki Oh’s spring 2013 dress, which reconceptualizes Nigerian traditions, and pieces from the latest runways of established designers, such as Tracy Reese, and emerging talents, such as Charles Harbison. The exhibition addresses the influence of black fashion models as well, by highlighting milestone events, such as “The Ebony Fashion Fair.” Black Fashion Designers is meant to enliven the conversation about historic and ongoing issues of diversity within the fashion industry. It honors the creative talents of designers who are often overlooked and provides a fresh, holistic view of the fashion industry, emphasizing the significant roles in culture and society played by black designers.

Read more about Black Fashion Designers.

Image: Stephen Burrows, coatdress, wool, Fall 1970, USA, gift of Stephen Burrows. 


orange 1968 courreges pantsuit in paris refashioned at museum at fit
Paris Refashioned, 1957-1968
Special Exhibitions Gallery
February 10 – April 15, 2017 

Paris Refashioned, 1957-1968 will examine the significant role that Paris played during one of the most fascinating and groundbreaking periods in fashion history. In 1957, twenty-one-year-old Yves Saint Laurent was made creative director of the esteemed couture house of Christian Dior. His first solo collection for Dior included his A-line “trapeze” dresses, ushering in an unmistakable shift toward more relaxed and ultimately more youthful designs—and with it, dramatic changes to the couture fashion industry.

By 1963, a group of young French ready-to-wear designers known as the stylistes had begun to make an impact on fashion both in their home country and abroad. Their of-the-minute fashions, which were favored by style arbiters such as Brigitte Bardot, presented an unexpected challenge to the more staid, costly, and labor-intensive creations of the couturiers. By 1968, some of the best-known couturiers—including Saint Laurent, Pierre Cardin, and André Courrèges—were presenting ready-to-wear lines in addition to their couture creations. Paris Refashioned will examine the shift from the unassailable dominance of the haute couture to the newfound influence of ready-to-wear.

Read more about Paris Refashioned.

Image: Couture Future (ready-to-wear label by André Courrèges), pantsuit wool blend, 1968, France, gift of Mrs. Phillip Schwartz. 


Adrian, evening dress, 1947, USA, printed rayon textile by Wesley Simpson/Salvador Dalí.
Adrian: Hollywood and Beyond
Fashion & Textile History Gallery
March 7 – April 1, 2017 

Adrian: Hollywood and Beyond will explore Gilbert Adrian’s ready-to-wear and costume designs, with a focus on his innovative use of textiles. Organized by graduate students in the Fashion and Textile Studies: History, Theory, Museum Practice program, this exhibition will be the first to analyze Adrian’s work within the context of the contemporary fashion and textile design of the mid-twentieth century.

Adrian’s relationships with prominent figures within the textile industry, such as Wesley Simpson and Pola Stout, were integral to his artistic vision. In Adrian: Hollywood and Beyond, these collaborations and other professional associations will be explored alongside a selection of garments and textile samples from the permanent collection of The Museum at FIT. Included is an eye-catching gown created from a Wesley Simpson textile and illustrated by artist Salvador Dali. This dress, alongside a selection of garments, textiles, advertisements, and film clips will demonstrate how Adrian’s use of printed textiles and creative construction methods made him a master of modern design.

Image: Adrian, evening dress, 1947, USA, printed rayon textile by Wesley Simpson/Salvador Dalí.



Alexander McQueen, Plato’s Atlantis collection, Spring 2010, England, Alexander McQueen, Plato’s Atlantis collection, Spring 2010, England, 2010.77.1
Force of Nature
Fashion & Textile History Gallery
May – November 2017 

Force of Nature examines how the beauty and complexity of the natural world have inspired fashion designers for centuries. The exhibition places more than 75 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. An enthusiasm for country life is represented with a 1785 robe à l’anglaise that illustrates 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, presents 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 reveals the natural world as a nexus of ideas and symbolism in fashion design. Force of Nature aims to contribute to today’s important, ongoing conversation about society’s relationship with the natural world and humankind’s place within it.

Image: Alexander McQueen, Plato’s Atlantis collection, Spring 2010, England, museum purchase.


John Cowan for Vogue, November 1964.
Expedition: Fashion from the Extremes
Special Exhibitions Gallery
September 2017 – January 3, 2018 

Expedition: Fashion from the Extremes traces a few of the most challenging forms of human exploration and looks at how the clothes made for survival in these environments found their way into high fashion. Types of expeditions will include deep sea, polar navigation, mountain climbing, treks through the extreme tropical and arid environments, and even travel to outer space. Four major types of clothing will constitute the majority of the exhibition: indigenous clothing such as anoraks worn by the Inuit that were later appropriated by the first Western European explorers; tailored menswear clothes made in the late 19th and early 20th centuries in cities such as London and commissioned by the first European explorers; an array of garments displaying novel technologies, mainly the newest high technology materials; and lastly, a wide range of high fashions inspired by these endeavors.

Image: John Cowan for Vogue, November 1964.


Afternoon dress, pink silk taffeta, 1857, USA, museum purchase
THINKing about PINK in Fashion, Art & Culture
Special Exhibitions Gallery
September 2018 – January  2019 

There is much more to pink than the ubiquitous stereotype of pink-for-girls versus blue-for-boys. “For a long time in the West, pink was only considered to be a nuance of red…and was little appreciated,” writes the great color historian, Michel Pastoureau. By the eighteenth century, however, pink had become a very fashionable color for both men and women. Over the following centuries, pink acquired both positive and negative associations. Indeed, anyone studying pink comes up against “the color’s inherent ambivalence.” One of “the most divisive of colors,” pink provokes strong feelings of both “attraction and repulsion.”

Some people think pink is pretty, sweet, and romantic, while others find it a disagreeable, vulgar, and chemical color. One recent study found that only 2% of those polled described pink as their favorite color, while 17% called it their least favorite color. Many people deny that pink is a “real” color at all. Color symbolism is popularly identified with natural phenomena, but in reality it is highly conventional and varies widely across cultures. As Diana Vreeland once said, “Pink is the navy blue of India.” Curated by Dr. Valerie Steele, director of The Museum at FIT, THINKing about PINK in Fashion, Art & Culture  will explore the changing significance of pink over the past three centuries, not only in the west but around the world.

Image: Afternoon dress, pink silk taffeta, 1857, USA, museum purchase.