Fashion, Science, and Exploration

Force of Nature installation image

The museum opened two exhibitions this year that explore the connection between fashion and curiosity about the natural world. Force of Nature, located in the Fashion & Textile History Gallery, includes more than 95 objects from MFIT’s permanent collection that examine how the beauty and complexity of the natural world have inspired fashion designers for centuries. In addition to its website, which features detailed descriptions and platform images, Force of Nature also has an online resource, with additional content on the subjects introduced in each section of the exhibition.

Expedition installation image
Expedition book coverExpedition: Fashion from the Extreme, on view in our Special Exhibitions gallery, is the first large-scale exhibition of high fashion influenced by clothing made for survival in the most inhospitable environments. On view are the earliest down-filled jackets, dating to the 1930s, and other technologically experimental objects engineered for polar and mountain exploration. Expedition is supplemented with a blog of behind-the-scenes stories from the exhibition’s curator, MFIT Deputy Director Patricia Mears, and Assistant Curator Elizabeth Way.

FSE symposium coverExpedition: Fashion from the Extreme is also the title of the exhibition’s companion book, published by Thames & Hudson. The book features approximately 150 color photographs of objects from MFIT’s permanent collection and others chosen from runway shows and leading fashion magazines, as well as previously unpublished photographs of early expeditions from the archives of institutions such as the Explorer’s Club in New York.

In conjunction with these two exhibitions, on Tuesday, October 10, MFIT will host its 18th academic symposium Fashion, Science, and Exploration. Notable guest speakers, such as Norma Kamali, an FIT Alum and designer of the "sleeping bag coat," and Edwina Ehrman, senior exhibition curator at the Victoria & Albert Museum, will delve into the impact of scientific thought on fashion.

Admission to the symposium is free.