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American Beauty

"American Beauty" by Patricia Mears

One of the must-see exhibits now on view at the Museum at the Fashion Institute of Technology in New York City (MFIT) is “American Beauty: Aesthetics and Innovation in Fashion.” The exhibit runs through April 10, 2010, and if you have the opportunity to see it, you won’t be disappointed. But if New York City isn’t someplace you plan to visit in the next couple of months, the accompanying book, “American Beauty” by Patricia Mears (Yale University Press, $55.00) is a must-have. In fact, even if you have had the chance to visit the exhibit, you’ll want to read the book because it provides so much detail about each of the displayed garments.

The Book
The book’s stunning full page photos are accompanied by lengthy text describing design evolution, European design influences, as well as specific construction techniques. It details innovative methods in garment shape and form in addition to other creative design techniques. Designers featured include Claire McCardell, Ralph Rucci, Muriel King, Charles Kleibacker, Gilbert Adrian and many more.

The Exhibit
The exhibit is an extraordinary display of the museum’s collection of remarkable American fashion from the 1920s through the present. Many of the garments were originally housed in the Brooklyn Museum, one of the oldest and largest museums in the country. The exhibit focuses on the design elements, craftmanship and complexity of American fashion designers during the period. The range of clothing types is comprehensive in that it includes both high-end, extremely costly garments as well as fashion in lower price ranges.

If you’ve had the opportunity to see this exhibit or read the book, please share your comments.


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  1. Skymom | | #1

    I want to go!! This sounds wonderful, and even though I'm unlikely to get to NYC anytime soon, I'll definitely request the book as a present at some point.

    The Trigere ensemble really caught my eye because it so reminds me of an Easter ensemble my mother made for me when I was about 6 or 7 (a few years after the Trigere original, that is). My outfit wasn't cut in the bias, but it was a blue/white windowpane-check coat and dress combo of similar silhouette. Even then I thought it was incredibly chic (for a little girl!)--a real anti-Polly Flinders look. Thanks, Mom!

  2. User avater
    sewlore | | #2

    I have been to see the exhibit. It is beautiful! I loved being able to look at the garments. My hands itched to reach out and touch the fabrics. The Trigere totally amazed me. I loved seeing the Halston creations. It was very enlightening to see how modern designers harken back to earlier designs

  3. User avater
    judithann | | #3

    Oh thank you for writing about this...I have eight days to get there , lucky for me my daughter works in manhattan so I have a place for us to go next week.

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