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Vintage Textiles and Fashion | Web Extra

View additional garments from FIT's "Fabric in Fashion" exhibition.

Threads #201, Feb./Mar. 2019
Article Image
James Galanos silk satin cocktail dress, fall 1955, USA. Photo: The Museum at FIT, Gift of Barbara Torelli.

“The Material Influence” by Erica Redfern, Threads #201, Feb./March 2019, explores an exhibition at The Museum at FIT. Fabric in Fashion, presented at the Fashion and Textile History Gallery, examines garments and textiles from the past 250 years to reveal the role fabric plays in creating fashion. View this gallery to see additional pieces from the vintage textiles and fashion exhibition, not shown in the print article.

The exhibition runs through May 4, 2019.

“I wanted to present this narrative focusing on textiles and fashion—areas of study that are often surprisingly separate,” says Elizabeth Way, the show’s organizer and assistant curator of costume at the museum. “Fashion is an enormously useful and illuminating lens through which to view culture and history, so this story naturally sheds light on economic, political, scientific, and social topics.”

The exhibition is structured to tell the story of how fabric, and the culture surrounding fabric, informs fashion. It begins by delving into textile structure and how different weaves and knit structures affect the way fabric behaves on the body. The exhibition then examines four key fiber types—silk, cotton, wool, and synthetics— to show their influence over time. There are often definitive cultural reasons fibers and textiles are viewed the way they are; the last section of the exhibition deals with how these perceptions have changed throughout recent history. The exhibition features 65 garments and 30 flat textiles from the museum’s collection.

The organizers want visitors to gain a heightened understanding of fabric’s role in fashion, as well as a greater awareness of the environmental impact of the fast fashion process, which creates significant waste. Technology has made fabric more affordable and, therefore, regarded as less valuable. Elizabeth notes that appreciating how textiles and garments are made is the first step to understanding the future of fashion. “Today it can seem that clothing is disposable,” she says, “so looking at the historic value of fabric will hopefully inspire future choices.”

Click “Launch Gallery” below to view photos of garments featured in the vintage textiles and fashion exhibition.

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