Upcoming Exhibitions Fashion Institute of Technology
Pink: The History of a Punk, Pretty, Powerful Color
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.
Fabric In Fashion
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.
Ballerina: Fashion's Modern Muse
Special Exhibitions Gallery
February 6 – April 18, 2020
Ballerina: Fashion’s Modern Muse is an exhibition that will illustrate the influence of classical ballet and its most celebrated practitioners – ballerinas – on high fashion from the early 1930s to the late 1970s. It will be organized by Patricia Mears, deputy director of MFIT.
Although ballet was codified in France during the seventeenth century and elevated to a supreme art form in Russia in the late nineteenth century, it was not until the interwar years of the twentieth century that it took its place in the pantheon of modern high culture in the west. So profound was ballet’s impact that it asserted widespread influence on many fields of creativity, one of the most important being fashion. At the same time, the ballerina blossomed into a revered and aspirational figure of beauty and glamour and her signature costume — the corseted tutu — would inspire many of fashion’s leading designers.
Many of the objects in this exhibition were designed and made in Paris. However, the popularization of classical ballet throughout the twentieth century owes much to the British and Americans. Imperial Russian classical ballet would not only survive, it would go on to become the most popular performing art in the United Kingdom during the 1930s and 1940s, and later in the United States. At its peak, from early 1930s to the mid-century, haute couture looked for the first time to classical ballets such as Giselle, Swan Lake, and Sleeping Beauty, among others, as sources of stylistic and aesthetic inspiration. Likewise, modern ballets performed in only leotards and tights would have an influence on mid-century American active and ready-to-wear fashions.
On view will be approximately 80 ensembles dating from the 1930s to about 1980. Most of the objects will be high fashion garments, ranging from Parisian couture to British custom-made clothing to American ready-to-wear. Included will be a small selection of ballet costumes and rehearsal clothing that illustrate the connection between dance costume and fashion.
The exhibition will be accompanied by a lavishly illustrated book to be published by Vendome Press. Patricia Mears, deputy director of MFIT, will write the main essay. It will also include contributions by leading dance and fashion specialists. They include: critic and author Laura Jacobs; dance curator Jane Pritchard; dance critic and fashion writer Joel Lobenthal; and fashion curator Rosemary Harden.Image: Charles James ballgown, silk chiffon, satin, netting, and boning, 1954-1955, USA, gift of Robert Wells in memory of Lisa Kirk.