Gender Bending Fashion

This spring, the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston (MFA), opens the first major museum exhibition to examine the long-intertwined relationship between fashion and gender. Gender Bending Fashion features more than sixty boundary-pushing contemporary designs alongside dozens of twentieth-century garments and photographs, illustrating a rich history of individuals disrupting, blurring and seeking to transcend a traditional division between men’s and women’s clothing over the last 100 years.

More than simply documenting styles and trends, Gender Bending Fashion also explores how the garments on view can speak broadly to societal shifts across the past century, including changing gender roles; ongoing efforts toward LGBTQIA+ rights and racial equality; and the rise of social media as a powerful tool for self-expression. Throughout the galleries, individual stories of designers and wearers—many of them celebrities, performers and fashion influencers—emerge, touching on issues of gender identity and expression, sexuality, race, class, pop culture, activism, social justice and more. 

Gender Bending Fashion is organized thematically into three sections, placing historical and contemporary garments into dialogue throughout the exhibition. The first section, Disrupt, highlights moments over the past century when designers and wearers have upended the paradigm of suited men and skirted women that has traditionally been in place in Western culture. The second section, Blur, explores certain moments and contexts in which the division between menswear and womenswear has been blurred. The final section, Transcend, features the work of contemporary designers that provide a glimpse of a new vanguard—one that is seeking to reframe conversations about fashion and gender entirely.

21 March - 25 August 2019, Museum of Fine Arts Boston, USA.


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