Tuesday, May 7, 2013

Fashion Goes to the Museums

It won't surprise you to know that as a blogger on style for women over 50, I spend a good chunk of my time looking at fashion trends, particularly in and around New York, where I live. I also enjoy reading articles and books about fashion in culture and history, since I don't think you can be a fashion observer without thinking at least a little about how fashion influences culture and vice versa. And, on those rare past occasions when a NYC museum has taken a cultural look at fashion, I've run to the exhibit. In the last couple of years, however, fashion-related exhibitions in city have become anything but rare. Now, I know a lot of people think about fashion—what to buy and wear--but this fashion-goes-to-museum trend makes me wonder: Are more people becoming interested in fashion as a cultural study? I'd love to know what you think. To continue reading, click…

Last night was the Metropolitan Museum of Art Gala celebrating this year’s fashion exhibition, Punk: Chaos to Couture. Known as the “Party of the Year,” over 700 celebrity guests gather to sip champagne and preview the exhibit. Here's a video of a few stars and what they wore. What do you think of Sarah Jessica Parker's Mohawk?

While I’ve yet to make the Gala's guest list (hope springs eternal), I have enjoyed the annual MET fashion exhibit for many, many years. In terms of public draw, the fashion exhibits have always attracted a pretty good crowd. That is, until two years ago, when something rather bizarre happened. The exhibition, Alexander McQueen: Savage Beauty, broke all records in terms of attendance. That year, my son, an FIT student at the time, and I stood on line for 90 minutes to view the show. Later, I was told people often waited twice as long to get in.

Since the Alexander McQueen exhibit, fashion-related exhibits have popped up regularly around the city. Museums want to sell tickets, so I assume the increase in fashion-related themes reflects an interest in fashion as a cultural study among the public. Just this past winter, for example, I attended the Shoe Obsession exhibit at the Fashion Institute of Technology (FIT), The Art of Scent at the Museum of Art and Design (MAD), and the Impressionism, Fashion and Modernity at the MET.

The shoe exhibition, which featured roughly 150 pairs of shoes, is now closed. However, you can view a slide show of many of the high-design footwear. The Roger Vivier design at the top of this post was my fab favorite. The museum at FIT offers free admission and is one of the city’s gems. I highly recommend a visit to anyone with an interest in fashion and culture. To learn about FIT's upcoming fashion exhibits, visit FIT. Unfortunately, the perfume exhibit is closed as well. Currently, however, there's a jewelry exhibit, entitled Wear it or Not, at the MAD.

If you hurry, you can still catch the the Impressionism, Fashion and Modernity at the MET, which runs through May 27th. This is a very large exhibit, which showcases both paintings and actual period costumes, and has attracted lots of visitors. As a museum administrator once told me: “If you want to sell tickets, schedule an Impressionism show.” I’m thinking the combination of the popular art period and fashion have been the keys to its popularity. If you’re planning a trip, I recommend going during the week or before noontime on the weekends.

I usually can only handle one major exhibition per visit. However, for the next couple of weeks, you can see the Impressionism exhibit and the Punk exhibit, which runs from May 9th till August 14th. If you want to learn more about the Punk exhibition, there are a couple of videos on the MET website. The first video on the webpage is about the Gala. If you want to peek at that, allow time—it’s pretty long.

Finally, if it's not obvious by now, I am a bit of a museum junkie. If you’re planning a vacation or day-trip to the Big Apple and want some exhibition suggestions, send me an email.