FIT’s History of Fashion!

The fashion museum at the Fashion Institute of Technology takes a look back at how the history of fashion has changed, gradually, throughout the years. Different fashion groups are represented and traces back 250 years to be exact. The Retrospective Exhibit, held in the Fashion and Textile History Gallery, presents an overview of historical references in fashion. Organized by Jennifer Farley with the support of Colleen Hill, the exhibit opened for viewing on May.22nd and started off with a selection of garments that ties to different civilizations including Egypt and Ancient Greece. IMG1690Slava Zaitsev’s ensemble, from his 2004 Invasion collection hailing from Russia, expressed a blend of modern elements with past inspirations. Historical periods such as the Elizabethan era were expressed through geometrical shapes and were characterized by a persons class in which they belong during the late 1500’s and early 1600’s. This era was highly fashionable and cautious with elaborated styled clothing. Women’s Wear Daily announced back in Aril 2012 that “twenty years after Kurt Cobain et al. bought the look to the forefront, dressing like a ragamuffin is back in fashion” speaking of an elaborated Elizbethan costume thats elaborated with slouchy flannels of grunge. All of the historical and modern day looks shown in the exihibit are in a dimming spotlight and has it’s background history written directly under the display. Posters, pictures and short films are apart of the exhibit and they also show background history of trends such as the Hoop-La Bouffant skirt, which made its debut in 1956. This silhouette is meant to be worn under skirts and dresses creating the illusion look of a full skirt with a tiny waistline creating the desired hourglass shape. Another trend displayed were various evening gowns each made of different materials like lace, silk, velvet, fringe, and wool. One display of a dress by designer Paco Rabanne was made of nothing but plastic and metal. Designer Sarah Caplan created a paper poster dress, inspired by her purchase of a 1960’s original design with a large eye on it, while Calire McCardell created a dress made of nothing but plastic tape measures.

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McCardell’s “Measure to Measure” ensemble explains its purpose in a small quote which describes “women struggles to measure up to society’s standards of beauty and size”.  At the very end of the display in the Retrospective exhibit, modern day designers made their statements in the fashion world with a touch of fashion history. Jackets, suits and shoes were exciting trends designed by various well-known designers such as Jean Paul Gaultier, Charlotte Olympia, Yves Saint Laurent and Vivenne Westwood, who once told Vogue Magazine back in 1995 that “being retro is associated with something conservative, but I think all ideas come from the past”. In the past, women used to wear clothes for special occasions. Ankle boots and knee-high boots were all part of walking and bicycle ensembles for women in the 1960’s. Play Suits, originally created in the 1930’s for play wear, later became known as “Hot Pants” (reffered to by Womens Wear Daily) in the 1970’s. Short Shorts were in style in both eras of fashion. Accessories, such as necklaces, gloves and hats, was the cherry on top of a perfect outfit. Cloche Hats were introduced in the 1920’s and conformed to “Bob Hairstyles” which were new as well. With todays designers who have a sense of knowledge about Fashion history, more fashion history is destined to be made in the future. The Retrospective exihibit is on display until November 2013.


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