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Upcoming Exhibitions

left: La Sirène dress by Charles James right: Lobster dress by Elsa Schiaparelli and Salvador Dalí.
Exhibitionism: 50 Years of The Museum at FIT
Special Exhibitions Gallery
February 8, 2019 – April 20, 2019 

Founded in 1969 by the Fashion Institute of Technology, The Museum at FIT is a specialized fashion museum famous for its innovative and award-winning exhibitions. The museum has been the site of more than 200 exhibitions since the 1970s, and Exhibitionism commemorates approximately 33 of the most influential of these, including Fashion and Surrealism (1987), a groundbreaking show that explored the relationship between art and fashion; The Corset (2000), a beautiful and brilliant exploration of the most controversial garment in fashion history; and Fairy Tale Fashion (2016), a magical look at the such enchanted and emblematic items as the glass slipper and the red riding hood. Exhibitionism also includes highlights from more recent, award-winning exhibitions, such as A Queer History of Fashion: From the Closet to the Catwalk (2013) and Black Fashion Designers (2017). Each exhibition will be highlighted using garments, photos of its original installation, and text that explains its importance, providing an engaging, “behind the scenes” look at the process of exhibition making.

Image: Installation view of Fashion & Surrealism (1987) featuring La Sirène dress by Charles James and "Lobster" dress by Elsa Schiaparelli and Salvador Dalí.

 

Grenelle-Estevez, evening set, circa 1957, Gift of Sylvia Levine.
The Traphagen School: Fostering American Fashion
Gallery FIT
March 5, 2019 – March 30, 2019 

The Traphagen School: Fostering American Fashion explores the legacy of one of the first institutions dedicated to educating fashion industry professionals in New York City. The impact of the school, in operation from 1923-1991, will be explored through an introduction to founder Ethel Traphagen, the main philosophies of the school, and its lasting influence. Highlights include ensembles by Geoffrey Beene and Anne Klein, evening wear by Luis Estevez and James Galanos, and illustrations by Antonio Lopez.

This exhibition, the first dedicated to the school, will focus on the Traphagen methods of design-by-adaptation and experimentation, both of which are still used in design education and the fashion industry today. The Traphagen School also includes never-before seen garments from the school’s study collection, as well as photographs, publications, and advertisements that chronicle the creative environment that Ethel Traphagen created for her students.

Image: Grenelle-Estevez, evening set, circa 1957, Gift of Sylvia Levine.

 

white silk taffeta strapless floor length dress with bright yellow swirling circles in various sizes hand painted all over and oversized bow with long trailing ends
Minimalism/Maximalism: Fashion Extremes
Fashion & Textile History Gallery
June 2019 – November 2020 

Fashion is a world of extremes, where sartorial expression ranges from minimalist to maximalist aesthetics. Some designers may identify almost exclusively with one over the other; Calvin Klein, for instance, was known for fashion minimalism. However, the cyclical nature of fashion moves us through design periods alternately dominated by a minimalist or maximalist aesthetic, re-affirming Isaac Newton’s third law of motion: for every action, there is an equal and opposite reaction.

In fashion, minimalism and maximalism define two extremes along the design spectrum. Minimalism, the aesthetic of less-is-more, is based on a reductive approach to design, and celebrates purity and restraint. Maximalism, on the other hand, accentuates the beauty of excess and redundancy. While these may be considered aesthetic opposites, both seek to challenge perception, and as forms of expression, they serve as indicators of the sociocultural and economic zeitgeist of the given time period. Minimalism/Maximalism: Fashion Extremes explores the interplay between minimalist and maximalist aesthetics as they have been and continue to be expressed through fashion. Beginning in the eighteenth century, the exhibition examines how these aesthetic viewpoints are expressed over time and move fashion forward.

Image: Agatha Ruiz de la Prada, dress, spring/summer 2014, Madrid, gift of Agatha Ruiz de la Prada.

 

cotton muslin 3/4 length jacket with with semi-attached under jacket in red and white stripes and grey satin breeches
Paris, Capital of Fashion
Special Exhibitions Gallery
September 6, 2019 – January 4, 2020 

Paris, Capital of Fashion will explore how and why Paris became the international capital of fashion. It will feature approximately 75 fashion ensembles, dating from the 18th century to the present, as well as accessories. Curated by Dr. Valerie Steele, director of The Museum at FIT, this major exhibition will be accompanied by a book and symposium.
 
The introductory gallery will place Paris within the global fashion system. After the Second World War, Paris was repeatedly challenged by new fashion centers, such as London, Milan, and New York. The first section of the main gallery will focus on the rise of the Paris fashion system in the late seventeenth and eighteenth centuries. The court at Versailles was the official epicenter of fashion, but fashion professionals were based in the city of Paris and foreign visitors were amazed by the Parisian “mania” for fashion. The second section will explore the growth of the Paris fashion system with its many métiers de la mode and its increased focus on feminine fashion. Particular attention will be paid to the development of the haute couture, which transformed dressmaking from a small-scale artisanal craft into big business and high art. Today, globalization and technology have transformed the world of fashion. Yet Paris remains a unique fashion city.
 
Image: John Galliano, ensemble, spring/summer 1992, England, museum purchase.

 

strapless bodice in black chiffon over white satin with floor length skirt with layers of black, brown and beige netting gathered into back bustle and forming wide apron front
Ballerina: Fashion's Modern Muse
Special Exhibitions Gallery
February 7, 2020 – April 18, 2020 

Ballet is a century’s old art form that consistently reflected and absorbed prevailing fashions. It was not until the interwar years of the twentieth century that ballet took its place in the western pantheon of modern high culture and began to influence many areas of creativity, including fashion. At the same time, the ballerina, the art form’s most celebrated practitioner, blossomed into a revered figure of beauty and glamour, and her signature costume — the corseted tutu — inspired many of fashion’s leading designers for the first time. Organized by Patricia Mears, deputy director of MFIT, Ballerina: Fashion’s Modern Muse will illustrate the rise and subsequent influence of classical ballet and ballerinas on high fashion from the early 1930s to the late 1970s. The popularization of classical ballet during the mid-century owes much to the British and Americans. A French creation that was elevated to a supreme art form in Imperial Russian, classical ballet would become the most popular performing art in the United Kingdom during the 1930s and 1940s, and later, the United States. At its peak, from the early 1930s to mid-century, haute couture looked to classical ballets such as Giselle, Swan Lake, and Sleeping Beauty for aesthetic inspiration. Modern ballets performed in leotards and tights would also influence mid-century American activewear fashions.

Most of the 80 objects on view in the exhibition will be high fashion garments, ranging from Parisian couture to British custom-made clothing to American ready-to-wear. Also included will be a small selection of costumes and rehearsal clothing illustrating the rich yet often overlooked connection between classical ballet and fashion. The exhibition will be accompanied by a lavishly illustrated book to be published by Vendome Press. Contributors will include Patricia Mears, Laura Jacobs, Joel Lobenthal, Jane Pritchard, and Rosemary Harden.

Image: Charles James ballgown, silk chiffon, satin, netting, and boning1954-1955, USA, gift of Robert Wells in memory of Lisa Kirk.

 

blue kitten heels with beaded work that reads whaam
Shoes
Special Exhibitions Gallery
September 2021 – January 2022 

Shoes will be a major exhibition at The Museum at FIT, scheduled to open in September 2021. The exhibition will highlight more than 400 spectacular shoes from the museum’s permanent collection, dating from the 17 th century to the present, with particular emphasis on spectacular 21 st -century footwear. Labels to be featured include Alaïa, Manolo Blahnik, Chanel, Ferragamo, Christian Louboutin, Alexander McQueen, Prada, Noritaka Tatehana, Iris van Herpen, and Roger Vivier, among others. Where appropriate, we will include both historic and contemporary styles from each brand.

The exhibition will be augmented by a lavishly-illustrated companion book, published by Taschen, which will loosely follow the format of the beautiful 2012 publication Fashion Designers A-Z: The Collection of the Museum at the Fashion Institute of Technology (Taschen; now in its third edition). The publication will include images of shoes from approximately 55 major labels, accompanied by short essays explaining the importance of each brand. Another 100 shoe styles will be featured in a timeline, complemented by extended captions that highlight the historical significance of each style.

Following the success of the MFIT exhibitions Shoes: A Lexicon of Style (1999) and Shoe Obsession (2013), this exhibition will provide its own rich narrative on the enduring cultural significance of shoes, and showcase the museum’s world-class collection of footwear.

Image: Jimmy Choo for Anya Hindmarch, evening mules, circa 1998, England, gift of Virginia Barbato. 2017.72.2.
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