Special Exhibitions Gallery
September 7, 2018 – January 5, 2019
Pink is popularly associated with little girls, ballerinas, Barbie dolls, and all things feminine. Yet the symbolism and significance of pink have varied greatly across time and space. The stereotype of pink-for-girls versus blue-for-boys may be ubiquitous today, but it only gained traction in the mid-twentieth century. In the eighteenth century, when Madame de Pompadour helped make pink fashionable at the French court, it was perfectly appropriate for a man to wear a pink suit, just as a woman might wear a pink dress. In cultures such as India, men never stopped wearing pink.
Yet 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.” “Please sisters, back away from the pink,” wrote one journalist, responding to the pink pussy hats worn at the Women’s March. Some people think pink is pretty, sweet, and romantic, while others associate it with childish frivolity or flamboyant vulgarity. In recent years, however, pink has increasingly has been interpreted as cool, androgynous, and political.
Curated by Dr. Valerie Steele, director of The Museum at FIT, Pink: The History of a Punk, Pretty, Powerful Color will explore the changing significance of the color pink over the past three centuries.
Read more about Pink.Image: Afternoon dress, pink silk taffeta, 1857, USA, museum purchase.
Fashion & Textile History Gallery
December 4, 2018 – May 2019
Fabric In Fashion explores the role played by textiles in forming the silhouette in Western fashion over the last 250 years. The examination of textiles is often separated from that of the fashionable silhouette, yet historically, textiles were as important as the cut of clothing in keeping up with current fashion. This exhibition will delve into the mechanics of textiles, looking at how fibers and weaves build the materiality of fashion. It will also explore the cultural influence of fabric. The Western world’s demand for fashionable textiles of silk, cotton, wool, and synthetics has had enormous repercussions across the globe.
Fabric In Fashion will highlight both clothing and flat textiles from the museum’s permanent collection, examining how the physical properties of specific fabrics determine the way a piece of clothing interacts with the body, as well as how the design and cultural associations of textiles reveal the social motivations that drive fashion forward. The exhibition is organized by Elizabeth Way, assistant curator of costume.Image: Traina-Norell, “Indian sari” silk brocade dress, circa 1955, gift of Mildred Morton.
Special Exhibitions Gallery
February 6 – April 18, 2020
Ballet took its place in the western pantheon of modern high culture during the interwar years of the twentieth century. The ballerina, the 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. Ballerina: Fashion’s Modern Muse will illustrate the influence of classical ballet and ballerinas on high fashion from the early 1930s to the late 1970s. It is being organized by Patricia Mears, deputy director of MFIT.
The popularization of classical ballet owes much to the British and Americans. 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 active fashions.
Most of the objects on view will be high fashion garments, ranging from Parisian couture to British custom-made clothing and American ready-to-wear. Also included will be a small selection of ballet costumes and rehearsal clothing that illustrate the connection between dance costume and fashion.Image: Charles James ballgown, silk chiffon, satin, netting, and boning, 1954-1955, USA, gift of Robert Wells in memory of Lisa Kirk.