July 17, 2012

Fashion, A-Z Part 2

Martin Margiela, sleeveless jacket, beige linen, spring 1997, France, museum purchase. Photograph ©The Museum at FITThe sculptural jacket is firmly constructed to resemble a couture dress form.

Over the Fourth of July holiday, I finally had the chance to see Fashion, A-Z: Highlights from the Collection of The Museum at FIT Part Two. It felt quite decadent to leave my office in the middle of the day and head over to 27th Street. In my mind an afternoon at a beloved museum is a small luxury. The Museum at FIT is one of the city’s great gems- a highly specialized fashion museum committed to advancing knowledge of fashion. 

The Museum at FIT collects, exhibits, conserves, interprets and documents fashion. Since 1975, the museum has been producing award-winning exhibitions. Isabel Toledo: Fashion From the Inside Out and Madame Grès Sphinx of Fashion are two of the museum’s exhibits that have lingered in my mind- both feature innovative designers who leave me in awe.  

Charles James, Tree dress, pink silk taffeta, pink and lavender netting, 1955, USA, gift of Robert Wells In Memory of Lisa Kirk. Photograph ©The Museum at FIT. The Tree dress exemplifies James' mastery of construction. James made fewer than 1,000 dresses during his career-the Museum at FIT has 40 of his dresses in the permanent collection and is the largest collector of his work.
 

I know I’ve said it before, but hands down the best way to learn about quality is to closely analyze construction. The opportunity to get so close to couture garments, that have been taken apart and reconstructed is what made last year’s Daphne Guinness exhibit so special. There’s something very intimate about the museum. The guards put you at ease when the alarms are accidentally set off and encourage you to take a closer look. 

The permanent collection contains more than 50,000 garments and 30,000 textiles and Fashion, A-Z: Highlights from the Collection. Curated by Jennifer Farley and Colleen Hill under the watchful eye of Director and Chief Curator Valerie Steele, the exhibition breaks from the museum’s conventional chronological organization. Instead, the curators opted to organize this exhibition alphabetically- beginning with Adrian, Balmain, Comme des Garcons and continuing through the alphabet.


Madeleine Vionnet, dress, black silk taffeta, 1936, France, gift of Carole K. Newman. Photograph ©The Museum at FITMadeleine Vionnet and Madame Grès dresses still look so modern.

I love that this is not an exhibit of greatest or best designers, but a look at the breadth of the museum’s holdings from the 20th and 21st centuries. I enjoyed the diversity displayed in Part One and Part Two doesn’t disappoint…

There’s a Christian Dior Trapeze Dress by Yves Saint Laurent from spring 1958 that speaks to the curators’ desires to draw connections between original house designers and their successors. Martin Margiela’s brilliant construction is displayed along with Ferragamo’s penchant for experimenting with unusual materials- raffia, cellophane, and cork.  A dress by Jean Patou left me wondering if it might be time for a retrospective. 



Alexander McQueen, dress, digital printed silk chiffon, spring 2010, England, museum purchase. Photograph ©The Museum at FIT. Computer generated prints, saturated colors and that signature couture cut.

Careful consideration was placed on selecting pieces that are representative of each designer. The exhibit features 60 items and the tight editing that I’ve come to expect from the Museum at FIT. If you are in New York, I highly recommend stopping in to see this. 

The Museum at FIT 
Seventh Avenue at 27th Street 

14 comments:

  1. Such beauty! The Vionnet is particularly stunning. I have never been to the museum at FIT and now feel like I simply must make a trip when I next visit New York.
    I love how your blog balances more personal/outfit posts with write-ups like these. Always so thought-provoking.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Ammu- Such beauty, each of the 60 items on display could inspire a post of its own. The next time you are in New York, you must visit- they do a great job with their programs, exhibits and lectures for the public. It's such a great resource and many people don't realize that it's free.

      I also think the Valerie Steele along the lines of Sally Singer is just brillant.

      Balance is important, so it makes me happy that you enjoy it. Being able to see so much and have that knowledge has really shapped what I'm naturally drawn to I think.

      Delete
  2. I haven't had a chance to visit any fashion exhibitions in London. There's currently a Christian Louboutin exhibition which I would love to go. I've never touched a couture gown in my life but I can imagine the thought and exquisite workmanship that went into creating one.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Chocolate, Cookies & Candies- Oh you must visit. London has great fashion exhibits. I've been reading about the Christian Louboutin exhibit a lot- it looks great. I saw a Louboutin exhibit a few years ago and some of the shoes truly boggled the mind.

      Ah couture- it's so true about the workmanship. I just love seeing things that are made by people who value perfection.

      Delete
  3. I can't imagine the determinations the curators had to make. Thank you for sharing. It makes me very happy that there are institutions that preserve and foster learning about culture. Can't wait to visit on my next trip.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Anonymous- I know I kept thinking about that too. Where do you begin and how do you select what's most representative for each designer they selected- the joys of curation.

      We are so lucky to have such amazing cultural institutions. It makes me that much more emphatic about preserving them:)

      Delete
  4. They are breathtaking dresses - the tree dress is a marvel - I can't imagine how many hours went into putting that together. That shade of pink is glorious as well. I'll definitely be stopping in at FIT to check out the exhibition.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. hope in high heels- It's definitely worth stopping in. The tree dress really fascinates me. I can imagine so much time and effort went into it.

      Delete
  5. So funny - think I saw this the same weekend as you! I was disappointed there wasn't more.... but I love being able to see everything up close and personal. The detail is so amazing.

    The intimate atmosphere is better than the Met in a way.

    I also loved the Daphne Guinness exhibit - such thoughtful curation. I love how it showed her style preferences.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Alice Olive- That is funny. Did you see Part 1 too? I wanted there to be more but love being able to see the details- They do such a good job with that.

      It's such an intimate atmosphere. I live for the Met Costume Institute exhibits, but the McQueen was such a madhouse and compared to FIT you couldn't get that close.

      I was so thankful that so much McQueen was on display at the Daphne Guinness exhibit. The curators did such a great job. There are still pieces from that exhibit that I dream about.

      Delete
  6. The information in your blog is very informative. Keep up the good work. WLCI School of Fashion Technology offers various courses and programmers in ? Fashion Designing, Fashion Marketing & Merchandising, which are very interactive and prepares students for real fashion world.
    To Know More Information Visit:
    http://www.wlcifashion.in/

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. WLCI FASHION SCHOOL- Thank you! So glad you enjoyed the post!

      Delete
  7. It is so encouraging to know fashion is being evaluated and exhibited to the public as the true art it is.

    Your Un Petit Bijou fashion posts are very informative and it is great that you include links that are such gems! The Daphne Guinness exhibit sounds perfect for those who appreciate and/or create fashion - and to be able to closely-inspect the garments is glorious.

    This FIT exhibit is one I would enjoy. Although I haven't seen FIT's Isabel Toledo exhibit, I did enjoy the Isabel and Ruben Toldeo exhibit at Savannah College of Art and Design. Awe-inspiring as well was the Fashioning the Object exhibit at Art Institute of Chicago - featuring Bless, Boudicca, and Sandra Backlund.

    I would welcome your insight and commentary at Toile La La.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. toile la la- Thank you for your kind words. It's great to hear from someone who appreciates aesthetics, art and fashion as much as I do. I'm glad to hear that you find the posts informative- that's the best compliment one can give, I think.

      The Museum at FIT is such a wonderful resource. I love the Met's Costume Institute, but MFIT provides such intimacy. While all clothing may not be art I certainly gravitate to designers who are able to make something purposeful art.

      Both of those exhibits sound lovely. Please stay tuned- I have an Isabel Toledo post in the works- I'm reading her book and it's lovely.

      I look forward to taking a look at your blog.

      Best Wishes!

      Delete