Exhibitionism: 50 Years of The Museum at FIT

The Fashion Institute of Technology celebrates fashion history with its new exhibition.

Pieces from Black Fashion Designers (2016). (Photo by Courtney Taylor Marino)

The most fashionable museum in New York City — located at the Fashion Institute of Technology — is commemorating five decades of fabulously groundbreaking exhibitions from Feb. 8 to April 20. Located on 227 W. 27th St., the retrospective, “Exhibitionism: 50 Years of The Museum at FIT,” is currently displaying the most compelling 33 out of 200 fashion exhibitions in the museum’s history.

As a part of one of the nation’s premier fashion universities, The Museum at FIT is academic at its core. Entry is free and comes with ample insight into the cultural implications of fashion.

Upon entering, visitors are greeted by a video featuring legendary figures of the fashion industry praising the museum’s work and influence. Comments from industry powerhouses Hamish Bowles, Michael Kors and Tim Gunn are included in the video.

Visitors are then met with gracefully curated displays that seem to be in conceptual harmony with one another. Each piece speaks to historical, societal and cultural elements in some way, highlighting the museum’s intention to forge a connection between fashion and education.

“Gothic: Dark Glamour and Fairy Tale Fashion” dramatically takes center stage in the middle of the gallery, adding a sense of allure and enchantment to the collection. Mannequins in Red Riding Hood and Rapunzel-inspired garb look out over the space.

“The Corset: Fashioning the Body” depicts various styles of corsets used throughout the 19th century, including ones fashioned from iron and references restrictive fashions of the past.

“Black Fashion Designers” is another standout, displaying pieces by designers of African descent from the 1950s to the present. It recognizes black designers while grappling with implications of the relationship between race and the fashion industry.

Additionally, “A Queer History of Fashion: From the Closet to the Catwalk” explores examples of sexuality and expression through the display of fashion created by members of the emerging LGBTQ community from the 18th century through the 21st.

Fashion captures the essence of a time, which is artfully acknowledged by the “Yves Saint Laurent + Halston: Fashioning the 70s and Givenchy: Thirty Years” display. Thoughtful inclusion of the history of influential brands shows how fashion links the realm of the material to the societal.

The “Fashion and Surrealism” display showcases true provocateur in fashion. With garments and accessories inspired by the surrealist art movement, the display exposes visitors to an avant-garde, wildly artistic realm of design. The surrealist element of “Exhibitionism” furthers implications of fashion as an art form.

The exhibit is a reflective celebration of the museum’s value as a historical resource as well as the museum’s own history, proving fashion is as profound as it is beautiful.

Email Courtney Marino at [email protected] 

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