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IMPACT: 50 Years of the CFDA

IMPACT: 50 Years of the CFDA
Special Exhibitions Gallery
February 10 through April 17, 2012
Special interactive timeline

bill blass CFDA at Museum at FIT
galanos CFDA at Museum at FIT
geoffrey beene CFDA at Museum at FITl
Bill Blass, red cashmere cardigan and red silk satin long skirt, 1984, USA, gift of Bill Blass, Ltd. Galanos, evening dress in leopard print silk chiffon and feather-trimmed stole, c. 1967, USA, gift of Frederick Brisson in memory of his wife Rosalind Russell. Geoffrey Beene, rayon and silk gown with metallic trim, Spring 1990, USA, lent by The Geoffrey Beene Foundation.

Impact: 50 Years of the CFDA was the first museum exhibition to celebrate the Council of Fashion Designers of America, the leading fashion trade organization in the United States. Approximately 100 garments and accessories designed by the CFDA’s most impactful creators of the last fifty years were on view. Also included in the exhibition were visual images and acknowledgment of the nearly 600 designers who have been members over the last five decades. Each living designer participating in the exhibition  selected a single object or ensemble that best represents his or her impact on the fashion world. Work by historical CFDA members have been selected by exhibition curators, Patricia Mears, deputy director of The Museum at FIT, and Fred Dennis, the museum’s senior curator. Impact: 50 Years of the CFDA was a collaborative partnership between the Museum at FIT and the CFDA.

Conceived by CFDA President Diane von Furstenberg, Impact was an ode to the illustrious designs of the CFDA’s many members and marks the organization’s 50th anniversary in 2012.

Among the designers included in the exhibition were Halston, Norman Norell, Pauline Trigère, Geoffrey Beene, Bill Blass, Rudi Gernreich, Bob Mackie, James Galanos, Diane von Furstenberg, Oscar de la Renta, Marc Jacobs, Donna Karan, Ralph Lauren, Calvin Klein, Tom Ford, Michael Kors, Tommy Hilfiger, Isabel Toledo, Rodarte, and Proenza Schouler. The exhibition was organized thematically to illuminate the broad spectrum of American creativity, from functional sportswear to couture-quality evening wear.

giorgio di santangelo CFDA at Museum at FIT
michael kors CFDA at Museum at FIT
narciso rodriguez CFDA at Museum at FIT
Giorgio di Sant’Angelo, floral print dress dress with chamois skin bodice, 1971, USA, gift of Ms. Lena Horne. Michael Kors, cashmere sweatshirt, hemp crystal-beaded pajama pant, walnut leather belt and platform sandal, Spring 2011, USA, lent by Michael Kors. Narciso Rodriguez, embroidered silk dress worn by Michelle Obama on election night 2008, Spring 2009, USA, lent by Narciso Rodriguez.

Founded in 1962 by publicist Eleanor Lambert and 50 of America’s leading fashion designers, the CFDA’s primary mandate was the recognition and promotion of fashion design talent based in the United States. Over the next five decades, as CFDA membership swelled to more than 400, its professional and philanthropic activities, outreach, and influence expanded exponentially. Today, in an era dominated by the designer label, it is perhaps difficult to comprehend how seminal a role the CFDA played in creating the platform for the recognition of individual creative talents in New York City, the nexus of global fashion.

“American designers have always had impact on how people dress,” said von Furstenberg. “In honor of that creativity and in celebration of the CFDA’s 50th anniversary, we are proud to present, in partnership with The Museum at FIT, an exhibit that represents the tremendous work of our members for the last five decades. ‘Impact’ was the one word that came to mind immediately – it is so strong and defining of our individual and collective influence that we knew right away that our exhibit would be called Impact: 50 Years of the CFDA.”

norma kamali CFDA at Museum at FIT
oscar de la renta CFDA at Museum at FIT
rudy-gernreich CFDA at Museum at FIT
Norma Kamali, black parachute cloth and feather jacket, skirt and turban, circa 2011, USA, lent by Norma Kamali. Oscar de la Renta, silk taffeta gown with black Guipure lace bodice, spring 2012, USA, lent by Oscar de la Renta. Rudi Gernreich, wool knit mini-dress, 1963, USA, gift of Ruth Deardoff.

“The Museum at FIT is extremely pleased to be collaborating with Diane von Furstenberg and the CFDA on the exhibition Impact,” said Valerie Steele, director of The Museum at FIT. “Exhibition curator, Patricia Mears, is an authority on American fashion both past and present, and I’m sure our visitors will love to see which of their creations today’s designers have selected.”

A publication also entitled Impact, produced by the CFDA and published by Harry N. Abrams, was the visually rich companion book to the exhibition. With more than 500 photographs, the book documents the evolution of the CFDA, from its birth in 1962, its early promotional efforts, and its strong ties to the arts, to the growth of its educational programs, its support of worthy causes, its own awards ceremony, its stewardship of fashion week, and its support of designers. Contributors include Diane von Furstenberg; Cathy Horyn, fashion journalist for The New York Times; and Patricia Mears.


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