The Museum at FIT’s major retrospective for its 50th anniversary is here, and it’s got some looks.
Dr. Valerie Steele, director of the museum at the Fashion Institute of Technology, and deputy director Patricia Mears pulled more than 80 ensembles from 33 of FIT’s most influential exhibitions (out of more than 200 exhibits in total).
That means there’s a lot to see when it opens on Friday.
"It’s a combination of history and cutting-edge style," Steele told amNewYork. "I am really proud the Museum at FIT is at the center of research on fashion studies, which gave it the ability to put on groundbreaking exhibits."
While 33 exhibits are far too many to name here, the best are represented from the museum’s "Fairy Tale Fashion," "Black Fashion Designers," "Yves Saint Laurent + Halston: Fashioning the 70s," "Madame Gres: Sphinx of Fashion," "Gothic: Dark Glamour," "Japan Fashion Now," "A Queer History of Fashion: From the Closet to the Catwalk," "Givenchy: Thirty Years," and much more.
Here are some of the most notable pieces in the collection, which is on view through April 20.
A metallic, vinyl ensemble fit for outer space by Gareth Pugh
Head to the gothic collection in the main gallery, where you’ll find this shining beacon of fashion, which was shown in the museum’s "Gothic: Dark Glamour" exhibit in 2008-09, and features a long slashed vinyl coat that is belted over a dress of the same material. It stands shining next to other gothic pieces like a black lace and sequined mourning dress from 1905 and a fantastical creation by Rick Owens called the "Batwing jacket ensemble." It is what it sounds like and looks like something a vampiress would wear with a bat-like cape and tall collar behind the wearer’s head. This one was featured in the gothic exhibit, as well.
An Andy Warhol-esque suit by Versace
In the "A Queer History of Fashion" section, there’s a smart, collarless suit covered in screened prints of Marilyn Monroe and James Dean from 1991, and it’s the first one you’ll spot among a few other pieces, including an Alexander McQueen printed silk dress that is reminiscent of snakeskin.
An incredibly intricate lace cape by Duro Olowu
It’s stunning just how complex Olowu’s 2012 ensemble (which includes black pants and a polka-dotted blouse) is, especially considering its bright colors. His work is found next to a chic evening gown by Scott Barrie, who used rayon jersey to create it in 1973. Both pieces (and more in this section) were part of the "Black Fashion Designers" exhibit in 2016.
A Hollywood showstopper worn by Greta Garbo
You will stop in your tracks when you come across the rhinestoned and sequined silk and velvet ballgown by Adrian Adolph Greenburg (a.k.a. Adrian) in the first room. The delicately beaded gown features tulle straps that flare out on either side of the wearer’s body. Greta Garbo wore the dress in "Camille" in 1936. The dress was first featured in the museum’s exhibit, "Adrian," in 1971. MGM donated it upon hearing there was a forthcoming retrospective of the designer’s work.
A gothic Lolita ensemble by H. Naoto
On display with five other contemporary Japanese fashion creations, this dark gem from 2008 features the glorious intricacies of Lolita fashion — all black lace and ribbon and metal rivets. Being able to see it up close is a treat, since the subculture isn’t as big here as it is in Japan. Other featured designers’ work is showcased nearby, including a black coat with laser-cut skulls and a deconstructed denim jeans dress.
A big red hood larger than life
It’s as if Little Red Riding Hood had a very large head. This fantastical recreation of the red cloak by Comme des Garçons in 2015 was shown in the museum’s "Fairy Tale Fashion" exhibition in 2016 and is displayed next to other ensembles that were in it as well, like a (person-sized) cape from the late 18th century and a slinky emerald green velvet dress by Alexander McQueen with copper beading flowing down the dress like tresses, which is meant to represent Rapunzel.
Heel-less platform ankle boots
You probably have seen these on the catwalk or maybe on "America’s Next Top Model," but it’s not very likely you’ve seen them in person. These impossible shoes by artist Noritaka Tatehana are made of red and gold embossed leather and featured in the first room with other incredible shoes from the museum’s "Shoes: A Lexicon of Style" and "Shoe Obsession" exhibits. Footwear fanatics, look for the patent alligator leather stiletto oxfords by Bella Freud. These are not for sale.
IF YOU GO, admission is free and the gallery is open noon to 8 p.m. Tuesdays through Fridays; and Saturdays, 10 a.m. to 5 p.m.