FIT Exhibitions

In their second year of study, students in the Fashion and Textile Studies: History, Theory, Museum Practice Master of Arts program in FIT’s School of Graduate Studies work in collaboration with The Museum at FIT to create and install an exhibition. This year-long course prepares students to enter the workforce as curators, conservators, registrars, or museum educators. The class handles every aspect of the exhibition process from concept to completion, including research, design, publications, and related events. The students draft proposal ideas in the spring of the previous year, and the museum selects the most viable topic. In-depth research begins in the summer, and the class formally begins to review and refine their exhibition thesis collectively in the fall. They are then divided into groups with specific roles and responsibilities. Sarah has led this course since 2013. She implemented structure and mentorship to support student achievement and execute professional exhibitions that showcase the many talents of the graduate students.

 
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Beyond Rebellion: fashioning the biker jacket

March 4-April 5, 2014

This exhibition explored the genesis of the biker jacket and its evolution into a high-fashion garment. Beyond Rebellion: Fashioning the Biker Jacket traced the rise of the black leather jacket from utilitarian outerwear to iconic symbol of rebellion, function, and “cool.” Clothing from Jean Paul Gaultier, Yves Saint Laurent, and Rick Owens was featured alongside historical examples of the biker jacket and the development of its cultural identity.

Lauren Bacall: The Look

March 3- April 4, 2015

This exhibition traced the development of Bacall’s distinctive personal style and celebrated her lasting influence. Between 1968 and 1986, Bacall donated more than 700 garments and accessories to The Museum at FIT. Her gifts to the museum were the inspiration for the exhibition, which features selected garments alongside photographs, magazine features, and archival footage.

Bacall’s love of fashion—and her unique sense of style— were evident throughout her life. Her look, which she described as “studied carelessness,” accentuated the cool confidence she exhibited both on-screen and off. It was a powerful combination of individuality, audacity, and glamour that continues to inspire.

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The Women of Harper's Bazaar, 1936-1958

March 1- April 2, 2016

The Women of Harper’s Bazaar, 1936–1958 focused on a pivotal time in the history of Harper's Bazaar magazine. The exhibition explored the dynamic collaboration among Harper’s Bazaar editor-in-chief Carmel Snow, fashion editor Diana Vreeland, and photographer Louise Dahl-Wolfe, who reinvigorated Harper’s Bazaar by combining their individual talents.  Drawing from The Museum at FIT’s extensive collection of Louise Dahl-Wolfe’s color photographs—donated by the photographer herself—the exhibition highlighted original photographs shown alongside nine garments by Christian Dior, Charles James, Mainbocher, Claire McCardell, and Carolyn Schnurer that exemplified the vast array of captivating styles featured in Harper’s Bazaar.

 

Adrian: Hollywood & beyond

March 7- April 1, 2017

This exhibition highlighted both Adrian’s ready-to-wear and his costumes, while focusing on his innovative use of textiles. Beginning during his Hollywood days, fabric was central to Adrian’s aesthetic. He employed an arsenal of techniques — such as appliqué, piecing, mitering, pleating, and draping — to build dynamic garments in which the materials are as celebrated as they are integral to the design. Adrian worked with and endorsed different textile manufacturers throughout his career. Indeed, his final collection in 1952 was dedicated to the “beauty” and “integrity of fabric.”From an examination of Adrian’s construction techniques and applications of textiles, a clear picture of the designer emerges — as both artist and engineer. As Eleanor Lambert, fashion publicist and founder of New York Fashion Week, wrote in a review of Adrian’s spring 1952 collection, “The fabric is the first signal that the costume is an Adrian.” His appreciation of textiles and their design potential set Adrian apart in Hollywood and beyond.

Pockets to Purses: Fashion + Function

March 6-31, 2018

Pockets and purses are often presented as opposites, yet both function as places to carry and store valuables. A close examination of their history reveals a nuanced interconnection rather than clear divisions between masculine and feminine uses and designs. This linked history is the focus of Pockets to Purses: Fashion + Function, viewed through the lens of fashion design.

This exhibition explored the history of pockets and purses as fashionable and functional objects that have evolved to accommodate the demands of modern life. Arranged chronologically, a selection of objects from the collection of The Museum at FIT analyzed the interplay between pockets and purses in both men’s and women’s wardrobes from the eighteenth century to the present. Themes of public versus private, fashion versus function, and masculine versus feminine were explored through garments, accessories, fashion plates, and video footage. Highlights included an early nineteenth century reticule fashioned from a man’s waistcoat pocket, a 1930’s Cartier clutch, a Bonnie Cashin raincoat, and an Hermés Kelly Bag.