|Detail of a 1965 Norman Norell purple sequined "Mermaid" dress.|
Fashion, A-Z: Highlights from the Collection of The Museum at FIT, Part Two opened May 23 at The Museum at FIT, and, like Part One, it’s a wonderful chance for anyone wanting to see a broad range of designers, both past and present, famous and not-so-famous, in the same exhibition. It’s also a peek into the permanent collection of FIT, which owns over 50,000 garments and accessories.
|Burberry Prorsum by Christopher Bailey dress and coat, Fall 2010.|
Co-curators Jennifer Farley and Colleen Hill have returned with a second show just as strong as the first. The concept of presenting designers in an A to Z format allows unexpected yet delightful pairings—such as a Jean Paul Gaultier trompe l’oeil dress next to Diane von Furstenberg’s shimmering golden gown—and also gives viewers the opportunity to see the work of different designers within one house, such as Balmain—a 1952 gown by house founder Pierre Balmain stands next to one by Oscar de la Renta for Balmain, who designed for the house from 1993 to 2002.
|A 2002 Jean Paul Gaultier gown, left, a Diane von Furstenberg 2008 gown, right.|
|A Pierre Balmain gown from 1952, left, a 2002 Oscar de la Renta for Balmain gown, right.|
|A 2003 Missoni dress.|
Another treat is a showing of one of Charles James’ “Tree” gowns, this one of pink silk taffeta from 1955. It’s a favorite of Ms. Hill, who noted that James only made 1,000 garments during his 50-year career and The Museum at FIT has one of the best collections of Charles James in the world. The museum also owns this dress in other colors—gold, green, and another pink—since James would often create the same gown for different clients in different colors.
|A Charles James "Tree" dress of pink silk taffeta, 1955.|
|A 1961 "cocktail set" by Arnold Scaasi made with Liberty of London printed silk and fringe.|
Ms. Farley is partial (as am I) to the stunning 1965 “Mermaid” dress by Norman Norell of purple silk jersey and purple sequins. Each sequin, she points out, was hand-stitched and reinforced. It’s an amazing dress and a testament to the skill and craftsmanship behind the Norell name.
|This purple Normal Norell dress has been beautifully maintained.|
A book showcasing Fashion, A-Z will be released this fall and will include 500 photographs of permanent pieces from the museum’s collection, including the garments and accessories on display in Part One and Part Two of the exhibit. It will also feature an extensive essay on the history of fashion museums and exhibitions written by Dr. Valerie Steele, director and chief curator of The Museum at FIT.
|Work by Thierry Mugler, NOIR, Norman Norell, Rick Owens, and Jean Patou.|
Fashion, A-Z: Highlights from the Collection of The Museum at FIT, Part Two is on view through November 10, 2012.
The Museum at FIT
Seventh Avenue at 27th Street
New York NY 10001-5992
Hours: Tuesday-Friday: Noon-8PM
Closed Sundays, Mondays, and legal holidays
Admission is free