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Incomparable Women of Style

Cheri Fein, executive director of Public and Media Relations
212 217.4700;

Selections from the Rose Hartman Photography Archives, 1977-2011

On View in FIT's Gladys Marcus Library
November 4, 2011-January 20, 2012

Photographer Rose Hartman has been chronicling iconic moments in fashion, style, and culture for more than 30 years, capturing New York City nightlife, fashion shows, parties, clubs, and openings. From Studio 54 to the Mudd Club to Chelsea art galleries today, Hartman's career has yielded a treasure trove of material that portrays incomparable women of high fashion, street style, and New York City society through the eye of a social documentarian.

Bianca Jagger Jerry Hall and Andy Warhol
Bianca Jagger rides into Studio 54 on a white horse for her birthday, 1977. Jerry Hall and Andy Warhol at Studio 54, 1977.

Incomparable Women of Style: Selections from the Rose Hartman Photography Archives, 1977-2011 will display more than 60 photographs, including rare vintage silver prints developed by Hartman in her home studio, as well as some of her most well-known work reproduced on a large scale.

Presented by the Fashion Institute of Technology's Gladys Marcus Library Department of Special Collections and FIT Archives, the exhibition will be on view from November 4, 2011, through January 20, 2012. This exhibition is the first large-scale installation in the library and celebrates Hartman's generous gift of her entire photography archives to FIT.

The women shown in these photographs are a varied selection of style icons. Bianca Jagger, Jerry Hall, Bethann Hardison, Margaux Hemingway, and Nan Kempner were shot at Studio 54 in the late 1970s. Diana Vreeland, Isabella Blow, Anna Wintour, Grace Jones, Vivienne Westwood, Naomi Campbell, Betsey Johnson, Donna Karan, Iris Apfel, Isabella Rossellini, Lauren Hutton, Paris and Nicky Hilton, Courtney Love, Madonna, and Diane von Furstenberg, among many others, were captured at fashion shows, design studios, the Costume Institute Gala at the Metropolitan Museum of Art, art galleries, backstage at fashion shows, and on the street. 

Grace Jones Apollonia"" Linda Evangelista
Grace Jones at her CD release party, Le Bar Bat, 1993. Apollonia backstage at Bill Kaiserman, c. 1979. Linda Evangelista at the post-Versace fashion show party, Armory, 1992.

A group of never-before-seen images of New York City's underground style icons will also be presented. These are the Fashionistas, as Hartman calls them, whose style drove high fashion from the city's club scene in the late 1970s and early 1980s into the mainstream.  

The exhibition will begin with the story of Hartman's transformation from an English teacher to a sought-after photographer given access to the most exclusive clubs, parties, and events. The exhibition will proceed to show the breadth and diversity of her career through the women of style that she has photographed at New York City's of-the-moment events.

First will be a selection of her most well-known and well-dressed subjects. However, the exhibition will not be limited to women from the best-dressed list. Rather, the definition of a woman of style will be expanded to include the designers who created style, the models who wore it best, and the young women who originated trends as they dressed to impress their club-going friends.

With a special focus on the span of Hartman's career, the show also will trace Hartman's unique position as a working photographer who successfully weathered the transition from analog to digital. While carting around a camera, rolls of film, and a hand-held flash in 1977, Hartman still managed to capture candid shots at Studio 54 and behind-the-scenes photographs of fashion shows before press was widely invited to cover the pre-show preparations. From slides to jpegs, Hartman's body of work serves as a time capsule of the photographic process that FIT's Special Collections is fortunate to be able to share with student researchers and fashion scholars.

Blonde Making up at Mudd Club Kristen McMenamy
Blonde, Oct. 1984 Making up at Mudd Club, c. 1982. Kristen McMenamy and portrait, at an Allure issue release party at a gallery in SoHo.

Incomparable Women of Style: Selections from the Rose Hartman Photography Archives, 1977-2011 is curated by Anna Yanofsky, a Master of Arts candidate in FIT's Fashion and Textile Studies: History, Theory, Museum Practice program, in conjunction with Rose Hartman, and under the guidance of Karen Trivette Cannell, MLS, assistant professor and head of Special Collections and FIT Archives. Research and technological assistance has been provided by Hartman interns Danielle McGhee, John Utsey, Jr., and Eva Shuman. Additional assistance has been provided by department personnel Juliet Jacobson, Clara Berg, and Chris Arena and department intern Gilit Cooper.  

A companion book, Incomparable: Women of Style, will be published by ACC Publishing Group (London/New York) in fall 2012.

Exhibition Hours
Monday-Thursday, 8 am-10 pm
Friday, 9 am-6:30 pm
Saturday, 10 am-5 pm 
Sunday, 12-9 pm
Admission is free and open to the public.

Enter at the Shirley Goodman Resource Center, located on the southwest corner of Seventh Avenue at 27th Street. By showing FIT Security a valid picture ID, visitors will be given a same-day library pass. The library is located on the 5th floor, where the exhibition begins.

FIT's Gladys Marcus Library Department of Special Collections and FIT Archives

Special Collections and FIT Archives acquires, preserves, and provides access to a wide range of primary research materials in their original formats across many languages and geographical spectra. Formats include and are not limited to: manuscript collections, scrapbooks, audio and video oral histories (some with transcriptions), sketches, illustrations, monographs, journals, digital files, and other media.

Subjects include primarily the apparel industry, fashion, regional costume, textile design, the textile industry, the FIT Archives, and, to a lesser extent, art, architecture, and interior design. All acquisitions support one or more curricula offered at FIT. Department personnel are committed to supporting original research of FIT students, faculty, and personnel, as well as designers and researchers from the apparel and textile fields and other industry professionals.

For more information, call 212 217.4360; email; or visit

The Fashion Institute of Technology

The Fashion Institute of Technology (FIT), a college of art and design, business and technology that educates more than 10,000 students annually. FIT is a college of the State University of New York (SUNY) and offers 46 majors leading to the AAS, BFA, BS, MA, MFA, and MPS degrees.