Vintage Textiles and Fashion | Web ExtraView additional garments from FIT's "Fabric in Fashion" exhibition.
“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.
Isabel Toledo, shot silk taffeta “Hermaphrodite” evening dress, spring 1998, USA. The Museum at FIT. © The Museum at FIT.
Silk organza overdress with woven pattern of floral sprigs, circa 1825, possibly USA . The Museum at FIT, Gift of Titi Halle. © The Museum at FIT.
Elsa Schiaparelli, silk faille evening gown, circa 1955, France. The Museum at FIT, Gift of Mr. Rodman A. Heeren. © The Museum at FIT.
Balenciaga, silk gazar evening cape, circa 1962, France. The Museum at FIT, Gift of Mildred S. Hilson. © The Museum at FIT.
Silk taffeta and kimono crêpe morning robe, circa 1870, USA. The Museum at FIT, Gift of Florence Anderson and Mary A. Seymour. © The Museum at FIT.
Lucien Lelong, wool jersey suit and coordinating sweater, circa 1927, France. The Museum at FIT, Gift of Mrs. Georges Gudefin. © The Museum at FIT.
Azzedine Alaïa, wool broadcloth trench coat ensemble with wool jersey hood, winter 1985, France. The Museum at FIT, Gift of Azzedine Alaïa in Memory of Arthur Englander. © The Museum at FIT.
Apple Boutique, moiré velvet mini coat, 1968, England. The Museum at FIT, Gift of Helena Hernmarck. © The Museum at FIT.
BODICE STUDIO, ensemble, 2017, India. The Museum at FIT, Gift of Ruchika Sachdeva. Photography: Porus Vimadalal. Photo courtesy of BODICE STUDIO.
Openwork silk knit evening gown, circa 1810, England. The Museum at FIT. © The Museum at FIT.