American Beauty: Aesthetics and Innovation in Fashion

FIT Museum

The Fashion Institute of Technology (FIT) needs no introduction. A leading fashion institute that has given the world some of the best minds and names associated with fashion, FIT has carved a niche for itself in the market. Therefore, when an exhibition is organized in the FIT Museum, the only museum in NYC dedicated entirely to fashion, your interest will be instantly piqued and you can be sure that it will be one of a kind.

‘American Beauty: Aesthetics and Innovation in Fashion’ does not disappoint. It is truly a unique attempt at understanding the ‘philosophy of beauty’ as it applies to dressmaking. Patricia Mears, the curator of the museum has selected about 25 American fashion designers without attempting to go after only the most well known personage. There are little known designers like Jessie Franklin Turner to rising stars in fashion designing like Mulleavy sisters of Rodarte. Other designers featured in this exhibition are Yeholee, Adrian, Valentina, Bonnie Cashin, Isable Toledo, Maria Cornejo, Rick Owens, James Galanos, Ralph Rucci, Halston, Jean Yu, Elizabeth Hawes, Charles Kleibacker, Charles James, Norman Norell, Claire McCardell, and Pauline Trigère.

Each of the 75 dresses that are being showcased in this exhibition represents the relationship between artistic excellence and technical ingenuity. Inspiration is drawn from the craftsmanship of dressmaking, and this exhibition highlights handcrafted details, creativity, and fashion-forward ideas that define clothing in today’s world. Without wishing to be retrospective, the range of clothes in this exhibition looks at high- and low-priced designs in the last 100 years of American fashion.

The main sponsor of this event is 1stdibs, the online resource for antique and vintage design. As long as the show runs, 1stdibs will have editorial features, exhibition coverage, and interviews with the exhibition designer, not to mention an exclusive conversation with Dr. Valerie Steele, the museum director, about the permanent collection at MFIT.

A book by the same name – American Beauty: Aesthetics and Innovation in Fashion was also released earlier this month. The book was meant to accompany the exhibition and through the beautifully illustrated book, Patricia Mears introduces several forgotten names of the fashion industry and also looks at some of the familiar fashionistas. This book aims to dispel the worldwide notion that America is a country of casual wear and garments that are produced and marketed in bulk.

It gives its readers an insight into the artistry, creativity, innovation, and flawless construction that have been a part of American fashion history. This book is published by Yale University Press and all proceeds from the sales of this book will go to the FIT.

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