MUSEUM ALERT:

The Costume Institute Will Take A Voyage To China This Spring

CostumeIstituteChineseWhispersDior
It is not uncommon for a widow to go on an extravagant trip to lift her spirits after she has completed an appropriate period of mourning, so it is somehow fitting that after this Fall's upcoming exhibition, Death Becomes Her: A Century of Mourning Attire, The Costume Institute at the Metropolitan Museum of Art is planning a grand tour of China with Chinese Whispers: Tales of the East in Art, Film, and Fashion. In a statement, Andrew Bolton, Curator in The Costume Institute who is organizing the exhibition tells us, 

“From the earliest period of European contact with China in the 16th century, the West has been enchanted with enigmatic objects and imagery from the East, providing inspiration for fashion designers from Paul Poiret to Yves Saint Laurent, whose fashions are infused at every turn with fantasy, romance, and nostalgia. In an intricate process of translation and mistranslation similar to the game of ‘Telephone’–which the British call ‘Chinese Whispers’–designers conjoin disparate stylistic references into a fantastic pastiche of Chinese aesthetic and cultural traditions.”

The Costume Institute will be joining forces with Met's Department of Asian Art for the exhibition which will be spread over several parts of the Museum —the first time since 2006 that it has teamed up with another curatorial department. The different sections will start in The Anna Wintour Costume Center’s Lizzie and Jonathan Tisch Gallery which will feature, as the Met tells us, "a series of 'whispers' or conversations through time and space, focusing on Imperial China; Nationalist China, especially Shanghai in the 1920s and 1930s; and Communist China, with an emphasis on changing images of Chairman Mao'. Scenes from films by noted Chinese directors like will provide extra illustration, and Chinese "women of style" such as Madame Wellington Koo, Madame Chiang Kai-shek (Soong May-Ling), and Empress Dowager Cixi will be spotlighted.
Upstairs, in the Chinese Galleries, visitors will find fashion from the 18th century to the present displayed with Chinese decorative arts, and then, in the Astor Court, the exhibition will turn to Chinese opera. The performer Mei Lanfang will be highlighted, and ensembles from John Galliano's lavish Spring 2003 Haute Couture collection for Christian Dior which he inspired will be displayed along with Mr. Mei's original costumes.
The show looks to be one of the Costume Institute's most ambitious undertakings to date, and the museum is turning to acclaimed Chinese film director Wong Kar Wai and his longtime collaborator William Chang for artistic direction in creating the wide-ranging exhibition. Mr. Wong will also design the 2015 Costume Institute Gala Benefit that traditionally kicks off the Spring exhibitions. Hong Kong born fashion and business mogul Silas Chou will be the ball's Honorary Chair with co-chairs Oscar-winning actress Jennifer Lawrence, Chinese film star Gong Li, Yahoo! president and CEO Marissa Mayer, Wendi (formerly Mrs. Rupert) Murdoch, and Met Ball stalwart Anna Wintour, editor in chief of Vogue and artistic director of Condé Nast. The exhibition opens to the public on May 7, 2015, so mark your calendar, and look for an explosion of cclebrity chinoiserie at the Met Ball on the 4th.

Chinese Whispers: Tales of the East in Art, Film, and Fashion (Metropolitan Museum of Art Press Release)


TICKING CLOCK:

This Weekend Is Your Last Chance To See The Costume Institute's Blockbuster Charles James Show

CharlesJamesMet-1
There was a little question in the air this past May when The Costume Institute opened its current but soon to close exhibition Charles James: Beyond Fashion: Would visitors be lured in by a major exhibition's scholarly take on a revered designer despite his being little known outside of hard-core fashion circles?
The answer, as it turns out is a resounding yes.
Faring better than recent high-concept shows at the Met like 2013's Schiaparelli and Prada: Impossible Conversations and 2012's Punk: Chaos to Couture, this show will end up as the 5th most visited at the Costume Institute in the past 25 years according to the New York Times. Stellar reviews certainly did their part, but word of mouth about the ingeniously designed exhibition that literally takes the viewer inside the designer's lavish gowns is likely what put visitor levels over the top.

If you haven't managed to get yourself to the Metropolitan Museum of Art to see it yet, then you still have a few days left to catch it. The exhibition closes on Sunday, August 10th, so get a move on. Luckily, thanks to the completion of the Anna Wintour Costume Center, we won't have to wait until next May for the a new show. Death Becomes Her: A Century of Mourning Attire will open on October 21st. That's about two and a half months away, so mark your calendars.

Charles James: Beyond Fashion through August 10th at The Metropolitan Museum of Art, 1000 Fifth Avenue at 82nd Street, Upper East Side
Previously:
New Looks: The Costume Institute Cleanses The Palate With Charles James: Beyond Fashion At The Metropolitan Museum


ON DISPLAY:

The Costume Institute Will Wear Widows' Weeds For The Fall

MourningEnsemble1870-72The Costume Institute at the Metropolitan Museum of Art has officially announced that their next exhibition will focus on the tradition of mourning clothes. If you are thinking that that will make for a very somber Met Ball, don't worry. Death Becomes Her: A Century of Mourning Attire (Not to be confused with the 1992 Robert Zemeckis film Death Becomes Her about the quest for eternal youth starring Goldie Hawn and Meryl Streep) will open on October 21, well before the next gala. Since the opening of the newly renovated Anna Wintour Costume Center earluier this year, the Costume Institiute will once again be mounting two shows a year, and this one will be the museums first fall show since 2007. You can be sure that when the next gala rolls around, the theme will be somewhat more festive.

And speaking of the show, don't presume that it will necessarily be a downer. Curated by Harold Koda, the Institute's Curator in Charge along with Assistant Curator Jessica Regan, Death Becomes Her will chronicle 100 years of mourning dress from 1815 to 1915 allowing it to easily cover, among several other periods, the death-obsessed Victorian Era. The show will be designed to offer more than just sociological insight, and there's a lot more than weeping involved. “The predominantly black palette of mourning dramatizes the evolution of period silhouettes and the increasing absorption of fashion ideals into this most codified of etiquettes,” says Koda,  “The veiled widow could elicit sympathy as well as predatory male advances.  As a woman of sexual experience without marital constraints, she was often imagined as a potential threat to the social order."

Like the current Charles James show, the upcoming exhibition will allow for greater display of the museum's costume collection than in the past few years, and will include mourning gowns worn by both Queen Victoria and her daughter-in-law, Queen Alexandra, who, as royals, had a great influence on the mourning traditions of their times. So don't expect just a dour parade of dreary dresses. This Fall, the Costume Institute will use a little death to tell us more about life.


YOUR WEEKEND PLANS:

See Photographer Garry Winogrand's Chronicle Of Mid-Century America

GarryWinograndCentennialBallMetropolitanMuseumOfArt1969
Are you all shopped out now?
Have you been to every possible sample sale at this point?
Tired of looking at all that Spring merchandise in the stores and not ready to see Pre-Fall this ealry in the Summer?
This would be an excellent weekend to catch the new photography exhibition, Garry Winogrand at the Metropolitan Museum of Art. Opening today, the show collects more than 175 of the prolific photographer’s works including famous images you will recognize as well as new prints pulled from proof sheets that the photographer himself was never able to fully realize, and even over 6,000 rolls of film that he never got a chance to develop before his untimely death at age 56. While Winogrand is recognized as one of the major figures of 20th Century photography, his early death turned attention toward some of his more famous contemporaries, and vast portions of his work have remained relatively unexplored —even by close associates— until now. The show’s curators sifted through troves of his archives, developing that film and re-editing proof sheets, to select and in several cases present for the first time works that give a richer understanding of his body of work. Fashion fans will easily notice the strong influence the Winogrand's spontaneous method has had on contemporary fashion photographers (Bruce Weber and Arthur Elgort immediately came to The Shophound's mind)

If that all sounds too highfalutin, don’t be discouraged. Rather than working in a studio, the Bronx-born Winogrand made a point of photographing real people wherever he might find them, which means everywhere, all the time. Every one of Winogrand’s prints catches an arresting moment in real life, whether it’s a couple motoring down Park Avenue in a convertible with a monkey in the back seat, or some particularly festive revelers at the Metropolitan Museum’s Centennial Ball in 1969 (pictured above). The zoo, the beach, a bus, a protest rally or a rodeo were all fertile ground for material. Still, his photos still center more on people and whatever their experiences may have been at the moment he caught them rather than their surroundings, however historically significant they may be. New Yorkers in particular will appreciate an abundance of images taken in the city between 1950 and 1971, giving us glimpses of life in a familiar place at very different times.

Of course, that’s not all that’s going on at the Met. If you haven’t yet seen the Charles James exhibition at the Costume Institute, then it’s a good opportunity to catch a double header of two great shows, as well as an impressive Wall Drawing by Sol LeWitt currently being installed for a formal unveiling this Monday.
So take a day off from the shops. Your wallet will probably thank you, although there is that Museum Store....

Garry Winogrand starts today and runs through September 21 at the Metropolitan Museum of Art, 1000 Fifth Avenue at 82nd Street Upper East Side
See a few more selections from the exhibition in the gallery below

  • GarryWinograndNewYork1950
  • GarryWinograndConeyIslandNewYorkCa1952
  • GarryWinograndNewYorkWorldsFair1964
  • Garry WinograndFortWorth1974-77
Garry WinograndFortWorth1974-77

NEW LOOKS:

The Costume Institute Cleanses The Palate With Charles James: Beyond Fashion At The Metropolitan Museum

CharlesJamesMet-1
There are a few reasons why The newest Costume Institute exhibition Charles James: Beyond Fashion at the Metropolitan Museum of Art is a Big Deal. The Shophound got a preview of the show yesterday, and anyone who has been nonplussed by some of the thematic extravaganzas the Museum has presented over the past few years might be surprised and will probably be pleased by the focused, streamlined and, yes, even scholarly show that opens to the public on Friday. The show is not without its own flash, but this time it takes the form of illuminating high-tech displays that take you literally inside the garments.

Last night's celebrity laden Gala was extra momentous because it also celebrated the debut of the Costume Institute's newly renovated facilities and galleries now renamed The Anna Wintour Costume Center after the Vogue EIC and Condé Nast Artistic Director. While there has been no end of press commentary about the honor given to one of the Museum's most effective fundraisers, the results of the renovation are a success. The Costume galleries —still downstairs, through Ancient Egypt— have shed their serpentine configuration for a larger, more open room allowing for more flexibility in exhibition design. This is where our preview started, with a section of the show features multiple examples of James' less dramatic but no less technically accomplished coats, day clothes and shorter cocktail dresses. It's a fairly traditionally styled display (see it in the gallery below), until you notice that several pieces are accompanied by 3-dimensional animated computer schematics that take the designer's patterns and show how they have been be manipulated into the often deceptively simple garments on display, unveiling James' intricate construction techniques. It turns out that this is actually a show for fashion nerds who are every bit as interested in how things are made as who wore them and how glamorous they looked, even if his regular clients included luminaries like Babe Paley, Gypsy Rose Lee, Mrs. William Randolph Hearst, Millicent Rogers and more. Interestingly, a smaller gallery contains selections from James' archives including sketches, notes, scrapbooks and other memorabilia including a typed list entitled, “CLIENTS WHOM I WOULD HAVE LIKED TO DRESS...SOMETIMES COULD HAVE BUT DID NOT” which included pointed commentaries on various personages. What a pity that Ava Gardner, Lana Turner, Maria Callas and Greta Garbo missed out on being dressed by James. It certainly might have rescued him from the obscurity he fell into toward the end of his life if he had a little bit more celebrity appeal. By the same token, one wonders what he might have dreamed up if he had the opportunity to work with David Bowie, Gertrude Stein and Mick Jagger.

The section downstairs prepares us for what is more likely to be the beginning of the exhibition for most visitors. The show's main flaw is that it is separated into two, unfortunately far-flung sections. The next part is clear across the museum on the main floor in the Special Exhibition Galleries. Traveling is an annoyance, but it's worth the excursion to see the meat of the exhibition, an amazing collection of the dramatic ball gowns that Charles James is known for —at least by those who know him at all. Again, restraint, serves the show well here. Instead of trying to recreate the famous Cecil Beaton photo that has become the show's poster, the gowns are placed far apart on large, circular platforms and spot-lit in a darkened room devoid of decor except for mirrored walls printed with quotes from James (pictured above). The stark tableau is impressive enough, but get closer to each garment and discover each one paired with its own video screen that scrolls from a detailed description of the particular gown style and possibly its original owner to more computer renderings and X-ray images paired with projections on to the dresses themselves revealing the inner structures that add lightness to shapes that one would think should be cumbersome. Never has a Costume Institute show used technology to such an arresting effect. Charles James: Beyond Fashion may not have the glitz appeal of Punk or Superheroes, or the timely, elegiac overtones of the Alexander McQueen exhibition, but it shows that the Costume Institute can get serious and scholarly without getting boring.

Charles James: Beyond Fashion from May 8 through August 10 at The Metropolitan Museum of Art, 1000 Fifth Avenue at 82nd Street, Upper East Side

  • CharlesJamesMet-2
  • CharlesJamesMet-3
  • CharlesJamesMet-4
  • CharlesJamesCecilBeaton
CharlesJamesCecilBeaton

YOUR WEEKEND PLANS:

Three Reasons To Visit
The Museum At FIT This Weekend

The spectacular Jean Paul Gaultier exhibition at the Brooklyn Museum is over, and the Charles James show at the Costume Institute doesn't open for a couple of months, so what are you to do if you are jonesing for a fashion exhibition? it turns out that the Museum at FIT is literally full of shows with three running at once right now, and that should hopefully satisfy your needs, at least for a while.

08_hollywood_02-First up is the recently opened Elegance in an Age of Crisis: Fashions of the 1930s which explores the curious notion that the 2oth Century's most economically challenged decade was also the one where modern fashion for both men and women fully took shape, literally. If the 1920s were all about glamorous but radical change and social upheaval after World War I, the 1930s where when things settled down aesthetically, and women turned to more traditionally feminine styles but without the restrictive undergarments that made previous, shapely styles possible. Enter legendary innovators like Madeleine Vionnet's revolutionary bias cuts that remain a mainstay of eveningwear today. Sports fashion, swimwear and modern men's suits all have their roots in the 30s, and there are plenty of dazzling gowns including Adrian designs for Joan Crawford and Katherine Hepburn (at left) that wouldn't have looked out of place at the Oscars last weekend —fitting since the 1930s is when the public started to look for Hollywood for fashion cues.

Trend-ology-installation_3Once you are done with that, you can proceed on to Trend-ology, (pictured at right) a smaller exhibition upstairs that shows how travel, trade, technology and historical events created trends that evolved the way we dress and even periodically reappeared over decades. Did you know that the original camouflage fashion craze happened back in the 1940s? 100 garments and objects represent emblematic styles going back to the 18th Century that help to explain why paisley patterns, plaid and even biker jackets have become recurring favorites.

BikerJacketAnd speaking of biker jackets, there's one more morsel of dessert left at FIT, Beyond Rebellion: Fashioning the Biker Jacket organized by graduate students in the Fashion Institute of Technology’s MA program in Fashion and Textile Studies: History, Theory, Museum Practice. This brief show chronicles the history of that emblematic Schott Perfecto jacket (pictured at left) that is once again a coveted item in all its various incarnations from the original to versions by designers as diverse as Carolina Herrera and Rei Kawakubo of Comme des Garçons.

That should keep you busy for at least a couple of hours. Go see them all at once or one at a time. See them as many times as you want because one of the best about the Museum at FIT remains that it is free, free free.

Elegance in an Age of Crisis: Fashions of the 1930s runs through April 19th
Trend-ology runs through April 30th &
Beyond Rebellion: Fashioning the Biker Jacket runs through April 5th all at the Museum at FIT, Seventh Avenue at 27th Street, Chelsea


YOUR WEEKEND PLANS:

This Weekend Is Your Last Chance To See Jean Paul Gaultier In Brooklyn

GaultierBrooklyn

If you haven't gotten out to the Brooklyn Museum yet to see The Fashion World of Jean Paul Gaultier: From the Sidewalk to the Catwalk, then by all means, don't waste a minute getting there. The exhibition closes on Sunday, and there are still some tickets left, but they may not be available for long. As in the Alexander McQueen exhibition at the Metropolitan Museum a few seasons ago, this expansive show reveals new depths to Gaultier's work that might not have been appreciated before. Taken all together, those crazy and irreverent outfits that have made him famous show a level of imagination and invention that you might not get from seeing his collections one at a time. If the clothes aren't enough for you , there are drawings, photographs and more TV, movie and video clips featuring his work than you will be able to watch in one visit. Then there is the remarkable exhibition design featuring an automated runway show (pictured), startling sound elements and an ingenious projection scheme that places footage of moving, often speaking or singing faces on many of the mannequins including one of the designer himself. Though the museum couldn't extend the show, they have added two extra hours to see it on Sunday, the final day when it will be open until 8 PM.
Don't miss it.
After the jump, have another look at the video featuring Gaultier and Karlie Kloss made by Stephane Sednaoui for the exhibition

The Fashion World of Jean Paul Gaultier: From the Sidewalk to the Catwalk at the Brooklyn Museum through Sunday, February 23rd, 200 Eastern Parkway, Brooklyn

Continue reading "YOUR WEEKEND PLANS:

This Weekend Is Your Last Chance To See Jean Paul Gaultier In Brooklyn" »


THIS WEEK IN PHILANTHROPY:

Anna Wintour Gets Her Name On The New Costume Institute Space

A-Anna_WintourNow that she has raised about $125 million over the past 20 years or so, The Metropolitan Museum of Art has named the newly renovated space that holds The Costume Institute after Condé Nast Creative Director, Vogue Editor-in-Chief and famous bob-wearer Anna Wintour (pictured left). After a two-year renovation, the section of the museum that houses the department will be renamed the Anna Wintour Costume Center, and the new name will appear above the staircase leading to the department when it reopens this Spring with the exhibition, Charles james: Beyond Fashion. While the name of the curatorial department itself will remain The Costume Institute, Ms. Wintour's name will grace nearly all of its facilities including the newly expanded 4,2000 square foot main showcase, the Lizzie and Jonathan Tisch Gallery, the Carl and Iris Barrel Apfel Gallery, The Irene Lewisohn Costume Reference Library, and newly upgraded conservation laboratory and storage facility that holds the recently combined costume collections of the Met and the Brooklyn Museum —so her name will be an umbrella of sorts under which some other important patron's names will fall as well.

Having co-chaired 15 of the museum's annual Costume Institute benefits since 1995, and turned an already highly prominent fundraiser into one of the most glamorous and widely covered (as well as lucrative) media events anywhere, Ms. Wintour has more than earned a permanent tribute from the museum where she has been a trustee since 1999. The famously controversial editor has helped connect the Costume Institute with sponsors for special exhibition and funding for many projects like the recent renovations, and now joins the ranks of other patrons whose names are indelibly etched on the walls of one of the world's greatest art institutions. Much will likely be made of this development in May by Ms. Wintour's admirers and detractors when the next gala takes place this May, but whatever your opinion of her as a fashion and media figure may be, it's tough to argue that she hasn't had a lasting and beneficial effect on the museum.


TREASURE TROVE:

Jewels By JAR At The Met Is Jewelry Like You Have Never Seen Before

7. JAR Tulip Brooch 2008
As humans, we are often given to hyperbole when describing shiny things, or things that give us pleasure in general. How many times have we seen the "best movie ever" or eaten the "best ice cream in the world" or had People Magazine tell us that someone is the "Sexiest Man Alive" with a definitiveness that is really questionable at best? Well, The Shophound spent quite a bit of time yesterday morning looking over The Metropolitan Museum of Art's newest exhibition, Jewels by JAR, and we are comfortable saying without overstatement that we have never seen jewelry like this before, and we have seen a decent amount of jewelry in our time.

You may wonder if, after seeing this display of artistry and craftsmanship, your own jewelry might start to look a little crappy?
It probably will, at least for a little while. Don't let that keep you away.
On our way home from the Museum, we passed by a jeweler renowned for creativity and finely detailed work, and everything we saw in the window suddenly looked a little bit crude by comparison. We expect to get over this, but it just serves to point out how the jewels on display at the Met are simply on another level from most anything you can buy in even the finest store.

You may also wonder why a jewelry exhibition at the museum is not being staged by the Costume Institute, but due to the Met's particular curatorial guidelines, precious jewels fall under the Department of Modern and Contemporary Art. Perhaps this is why exhibition curator Jane Adlin, an Assistant Curator in the department, approached the material as sculpture in the form of jewelry, rather than as a collection of accessories. It works because JAR, also known as Bronx born Joel A. Rosenthal, approaches his work the same way, applying the same kind of detail to a jeweled tulip brooch like the one pictured above that a Dutch master would to a painting of the very same flower. While a world renowned jeweler on the Place Vendôme in Paris might make a perfectly lovely flower brooch out of rubies, diamonds and platinum to justify a stratospheric luxury price. A few doors down, in his own exclusive atelier, Rosenthal might use those same materials, but also add aluminum, lowly zircons or garnets, titanium, enamel or any other seemingly random ingredient that will achieve the kind of visual effect he is after. The value in his work is not only in precious materials, but more so in his artistic rendering. This is why we can look at a case full of his flower brooches and earrings and marvel at how each one is unique as he uses different techniques to create a geranium, a spray of fern leaves, or a camellia, or any number of other flora. There are fauna, too. A wall festooned with glittering butterfly and dragonfly brooches proved a magnet for viewers at the preview. We can't tell you of they were based on actual insects or were fantasy designs, but it hardly mattered. Lightning, mushrooms, owls and even a scoop of melting ice cream are among the many things rendered by Rosenthal in the exhibition. Because of the way the more than 400 objects are presented, you don't have to be a jewelry lover or imagine how one would wear them to appreciate them as art. In fact, they are presented very much apart from the presumed wearers, most of whom maintained their anonymity in lending pieces to the show. There are no photos of people wearing any of the items, and even the displays avoid any illusion to the body. Like any other piece of fine art, the jewels' practical uses are beside the point.

The show is a big deal for the notoriously press-shy Rosenthal. It is the first major exhibition of his work in the U.S., covering the entirety of his career including pieces he hand delivered himself direct from his atelier. It is also the first retrospective at the Met of a living, still working jeweler. Rosenthal works exclusively by appointment. He doesn't sell to other retailers. He doesn't send pieces to magazines or lend them to actresses for red carpet events. In fact, if someone wears one of his pieces, you can bet it is because it has been bought and paid for and probably made exclusively for them. Unless you run in the same circles as JAR clients, this show may be one of the few opportunities you will ever have to see his work in person. In a rare move, he has created a small line of earrings and watches to be sold exclusively at the Museum through the duration of the show. The watches are $600 each, and the earring start at $2000 for styles in resin and go to $7,500 for a pair in gold covered aluminum (pictured in the gallery below). These are truly below-entry level prices for JAR jewels, and are likely to sell quickly to jewelry fans. During a brief Q & A with Adlin during the preview, she was asked about the price range of the pieces in the exhibition. Bristling a bit at the thought, she eventually explained that the museum never comments on the value of anything it displays, which led us to the old adage, "If you have to ask the price, you probably can't afford it."
See our gallery below for pictures from the Met's press office, some photos of our own and a few of the JAR pieces available exclusively at the museum store.

Jewels By JAR at the Metropolitan Museum of Art, November 20, 2013 - March 9 2013

  • 1. JAR Poppy Brooch 1982
  • 2. JAR Zebra Brooch 1987
  • 3. JAR Butterfly Brooch 1994
  • 4. JAR Colored Balls Necklace 1999
  • 5. JAR Lilac Brooches 2001
  • 8. JAR Hoop Earrings 2008 2010
  • 9. JAR Bracelet 2010
  • 10. JAR Camellia Brooch 2010
  • 11. JAR Multicolored Handkerchief Earrings 2011
  • 12. JAR Earrings 2011
  • 13. JAR Cameo and Rose Petal Brooch 2011
  • 14. JAR Raspberry Brooch 2011
  • JewelsbyJAR-B
  • JewelsbyJAR-A
  • JewelsbyJAR-C
  • JewelsbyJAR-D
  • JAR Carnaval a Venise
  • JAR La Dame Aux Gardenias
  • JAR Tickle Me Feather
JAR Tickle Me Feather

AT THE MUSEUM:

FIT Takes On Gay Fashion And Plans A Dance Show For Next Fall

FITqueerfashionAfter seeing A Queer History of Fashion: From The Closet To The Catwalk currently on at The Museum at FIT through January 4th, we have to give the museum credit for tackling a huge and ambitious topic.
We can tell you that the exhibition is probably not exactly what you think it is.
It's not necessarily a survey of clothes made by gay designers, although a lot of it is.
It's not a specifically compendium of clothes worn by LGBTQ people, although a lot of those are included.
It's not a display of outfits worn by drag queens, although there are a few of those.
It's not a presentation of ensembles fit for a leather bar, although there's a little of that too.
It's not even a study of how gay styles affect mainstream fashion, although it touches upon that topic.

The 100-piece show winds up raising a more questions than it answers, possibly intentionally, about how gay people throughout the past few centuries created fashion for themselves, and sometimes others, that reflected how they fit into society at the time —or in many cases, didn't fit in. So, the show becomes a glamorous soup of clothes that goes back to styles from times when the closet was more like a bank vault, and people transmitted their sexual preferences though coded dress, and moves on to gender bending media figures like Marlene Dietrich and Noel Coward before turning to designers like Gianni Versace and Jean-Paul Gaultier whose designs became ever more exuberant as gays openly entered mainstream culture. Each outfit seems to represent a different facet of the exhibition's topic, as well highlighting prominent gay people in Fashion including designer and Shophound friend John Bartlett and Barneys "Ambassador" Simon Doonan. Doonan is represented by an late '70s outfit featuring a pair of Vivienne Westwood tartan bondage pants on loan from the Costume Institute at the Metropolitan Museum of Art that, we can't help noting, were coincidentally cataloged by a young Shophound as an intern there. Doonan, Bartlett and others are also featured in video interviews discussing what fashion means to them as gay people which further illuminates the show. After an entertaining but fairly straightforward exhibition of elaborate shoe design, A Queer History of Fashion raises interesting questions about exactly what anyone's clothes say about themselves consciously or not, and there may not be simple answers.

Next Fall, FIT will tackle Dance and Fashion, which given the breadth of the current show, could range from ballroom apparel to stage costumes to movie musicals to disco-wear and probably lots of things we wouldn't even think of.

A Queer History of Fashion: From The Closet To The Catwalk at The Museum at FIT through January 4th, Seventh Avenue at 27th Street, Chelsea
FIT Plots Dance Exhibition (WWD)