Monday, April 26, 2010
My trips to Manhattan for exhibits are much too few and far between, and when I go, I have to pack in as much as I can. In a couple of weeks, I plan on visiting the shows "American Woman: Fashioning a National Identity" and "Night and Day" at the Metropolitan Museum of Art and The Museum at FIT, respectively. "American Woman" features garments from the Brooklyn Museum Costume Collection, now housed at the Met (I discussed the transfer here), and will focus on changing perceptions of American femininity in and through dress. This could be a broad and thought-provoking exhibition because it is not only examining the work of American designers but all designers who dress, and have dressed, archetypal American women. I'm also excited to see it because I have spent a large amount of time discussing American designers and the American market (and their differences from their French and European counterparts) in the course on the great designers that I taught at Marymount this semester. When I met the wonderful Isabel and Ruben Toledo last week (more on that later, once I get pictures!), Ruben laughingly commented to me that he thought it was funny that Andrew Bolton was curating this show, since he is British! But perhaps an "outsider" can more easily recognize those things that are archetypically American. One thing that rubs me the wrong way is that the sample Audio Guide clip on the exhibit website is narrated by Sarah Jessica Parker, but perhaps that has more to do with my views on Sex and the City (which I will keep to myself-- you're welcome) than any hints at "selling out." If costume exhibits were completely divorced from pop culture, I don't know if anyone but me would come, anyway!
The second exhibit, "Night and Day," is a rotation of The Museum at FIT's History Gallery, which is always a chronological display of fashion history from the 18th through the 21st centuries but features different garments and a different theme every 6 months. This one focuses on the rules for appropriate dress according to time of day. I'm particularly curious to see what they come up with for the late 20th and early 21st century, as we no longer have hard-and-fast rules as to what must be worn when. Perhaps there will be some pieces that blur the day/evening line. I'm sorry that I will be catching this exhibit at its tail end. If you have the chance, go now before it's too late!
Has anyone been to "Night and Day?" How about FIT's show "American Beauty," which recently closed but was focused solely on American designers, many of whom are not well known? Are you as excited to see these exhibits as I am?
Photo by Alfred Eisenstaedt, Life, 1941.
Posted by WAJ R at 6:29 PM