Image: Minidress (detail), Unknown ca. 1986. Made with paper fleece with motifs by Andy Warhol. Photo © Kunstgewerbemuseum, Staatliche Museen zu Berlin
Students from the Fashion Institute of Technology’s Graduate Studies program have organised a virtual exhibition in collaboration with The Museum at FIT called The Roaring Twenties and The Swinging Sixties. The exhibition, which launches on 15 March, juxtaposes the fashionable looks of the 1920s and 1960s in relation to the decades' parallel social upheavals and artistic movements. Organised by students of FIT’s MA programme, Fashion and Textile Studies: History, Theory, and Museum Practice, the show features objects and fashion illustrations from the permanent collection of MFIT, supplemented with archival photographs that further demonstrate parallels between the fashion of the two decades.
Image: Evening dress, Yves Saint Laurent. Brown organza, plastic plaques, bronzetone beads, black seed beads, and gold metallic beads. 1967.
Both the Twenties and the Sixties were periods of significant crisis and change, with each giving rise to new ideas about the “modern woman” which impacted fashion in remarkably similar ways. These similarities are explored through six thematic sections: Twenties Nostalgia; Dreams and Discontent; Obsession with Youth; Music Mania; Cultural Appropriation; and Mode and Modernity. The shared spirit of the times, whether in art, music, technology, social movements and upheaval, or cultural inspiration, is highlighted by paired objects with discernible visual similarities. Online visitors will be greeted with gems from the MFIT collection, including 1920s dresses by Paul Poiret and Edward Molyneux, and 1960s ensembles by Yves Saint Laurent and Pierre Cardin, each personifying an image of the new "modern woman" of each era.
Image: Sorrente Dance Gown, Jeanne Lanvin. Paris, ca. 1927/28
The themes of The Roaring Twenties and The Swinging Sixties take on another intriguing and poignant dimension in light of the tumultuous beginning to this century’s 20’s. In addition to the global pandemic, movements for social justice and racial and gender equality–similar to those of the 1920s and 1960s–characterised 2020. Visitors are invited to contemplate what effects the progressive spirit of the 2020s will have on fashion, and how the resulting designs might compare to those of the 1920s and 1960s.
This exhibition, and accompanying videos and resources (including a free and publicly accessible plus-sized pattern archive) will be available through the MFIT website from March 15, 2021. To find out more, visit the exhibition page on the Museum at FIT website.