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Fashion, A-Z: Highlights from the Collection of The Museum at FIT - Part One

Cheri Fein, executive director of Public and Media Relations
212 217.4700 or [email protected]

The Museum at FIT presents Fashion, A-Z: Highlights from the Collection of The Museum at FIT-Part One, the first of two consecutive exhibitions featuring masterpieces from the museums permanent collection of more than 50,000 garments and accessories. From Alaa, Balenciaga, Chanel, and Dior to Westwood, Yeohlee, and Zoran, the exhibition will feature approximately 50 garments from many of the most important designers of the 20th and 21st centuries.

Elsa Schiaparelli will be represented by a 1935 bias-cut gown inspired by an Indian sari. An evening dress in navy-blue paper silk taffeta by Madame Gres typifies this designers dramatic sculptural approach to fashion. Oscar de la Renta's sense of drama and color is evoked by a 1978 leaf-green and golden-yellow evening ensemble. Miuccia Prada's prim yet alluring peek-a-boo lace dress, layered over a long cotton shirt, exudes the stylish quirkiness for which her label has become well known.  

Metallic bustier and fishtail skirt Black dress with gold print evening blouse and skirt
Thierry Mugler, evening gown, metallic silver lilac lam, lilac satin, circa 1987, France, museum purchase.  Elsa Schiaparelli, dress, printed black rayon, fall 1935, France, gift of Yeffe Kimball Slatin. Oscar de la Renta, evening blouse and skirt, light green taffeta, gold silk taffeta, circa 1978, USA, gift of Penelope Tree.  

A number of new acquisitions to The Museum at FIT's permanent collection will be exhibited for the first time, including an elaborately embroidered black silk coat dress by Alexander McQueen, dating from his time as creative director of Givenchy in the 1990s. The combination of sexuality and theatricality that made Thierry Mugler famous in the 1980s will be seen in his fantastical metallic bustier and fishtail skirt. Another important new acquisition in the exhibition is an elegant evening gown by Valentino, rendered in the designers signature shade of bright red and featured in his last-ever couture collection in 2008. The Valentino gown will be shown alongside a Versace suit from 1991, its bold Andy Warhol-inspired print emphasizing the relationship between art and fashion.         

Black coatdress Red sleeveless evening dress Multicolored skirt suit
Givenchy (Alexander McQueen), coatdress, black wool, satin, metallic embroidery, fall 1997, France, gift of Mrs. Martin D. Gruss.
Valentino, evening dress, red silk, spring 2008, Italy, gift of Valentino.
Gianni Versace, suit, multicolor cotton and silk, rhinestone buttons, 1991, Italy, museum purchase.

Fashion, A-Z: Highlights from the Collection of The Museum at FIT-Part One will also feature cutting-edge 21st century design. Rick Owens's batwing jacket and slinky skirt epitomize his moody yet sensuous aesthetic, which has been described as glamour meets grunge. A wool dress by Gareth Pugh from his fall 2007 collection is characterized by the dense application of patent leather strips that gives it a feeling of contemporary armor. Also armor-like is a fierce 2006 ensemble from the English label Boudicca, which was featured in the 2006 exhibition, Love & War: The Weaponized Woman. Rick Owens, Gareth Pugh, and Boudicca are among today's fashion avant-garde, tipped to be included in any future list of great designers.

Black wool dress White coat flaring out over skirt Dark gray ensemble
Gareth Pugh, dress, black wool with patent leather applique, fall 2007, England, museum purchase.
Boudicca (Zowie Broach and Brian Kirkby), ensemble, white cotton, black polyester net, black rayon stretch knit, black leather, fall 2006, England, museum purchase.
Rick Owens, batwing jacket and skirt, black denim, wool felt, distressed leather, grey silk crepe, fall 2008, France, gift of Rick Owens.

Another 50 fashion masterpieces will be shown in Fashion, A-Z: Highlights from the Collection of The Museum at FIT-Part Two, which will be on display at The Museum at FIT from May 23 through November 10, 2012. Among the museums recent acquisitions that will be included in Fashion A-Z, Part Two are an extraordinary dress from Alexander McQueen's spring 2010 Platos Atlantis collection, which will be on display at the museum for the first time, and a 2002 evening  ensemble  by Jean Paul Gaultier. Avant-garde looks will include Martin Margiela's iconic dress-form jacket and Junya Watanabe's blue denim dress. Among the historic masterpieces on display will be Charles James's pale pink tree dress and a 1976 evening ensemble by Yves Saint Laurent.

A companion book will be published by TASCHEN in spring 2012. The book will feature color photographs of 500 of the museum's pieces from the 20th and 21st centuries which will be preceded by an extensive essay on the history of fashion museums and exhibitions written by Valerie Steele, director and chief curator of The Museum at FIT.

A Fashion Museum The Museum at FIT is the only museum in New York City dedicated solely to the art of fashion. Best known for its innovative and award-winning exhibitions, which the New York Times has described as ravishing, the museum has a collection of more than 50,000 garments and accessories dating from the 18th century to the present. Like other fashion museums, such as the Muse de la Mode, the Mode Museum, and the Museo de la Moda, The Museum at FIT collects, conserves, documents, exhibits, and interprets fashion. The museums mission is to advance knowledge of fashion through exhibitions, publications, and public programs. Visit

The Couture Council is a membership group of fashion enthusiasts that helps support the exhibitions and programs of The Museum at FIT. The Couture Council Award for Artistry of Fashion is given to a selected designer at a benefit luncheon held every September. For information on the Couture Council, call 212 217.4532 or email [email protected].