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MoMA Hosts First Fashion Exhibition Since 1944

The Museum Of Modern Art (MoMA), one of the most influential museums in the world, is hosting a fashion-based design exhibition titled “Items: Is Fashion Modern?”,  a revision of  Bernard Rudofsky’s  compelling installation in 1944. 

MoMA has played an integral role in developing and collecting modern art since its opening and while it is appropriately located in the fashion capital that is New York,  there hasn’t been any representation of fashion in the museum for the past 73 years.

Curated by Paola Antonelli, the exhibition features 111 pieces and explores the myriad of ways fashion, a vital aspect of design, has manifested in people’s lives.  From prêt-à-porter to couture, clothing always relates back to the human form.

Rudofsky’s little known but important exhibition “Are Clothes Modern?” explored individual and collective relationships people had with fashion in the mid-century, speaking to power and societal attitudes. The exhibition dissected the way clothes are made with regards to the aesthetics of gender-conforming dressing i.e women who poured themselves into uncomfortable silhouettes, like corsets.

The current MoMA showcase features the mediums of photography and video material totalling up to 350 pieces accompanies by scholarly articles. The overarching focus is on the phases of fashion in the past 100 years: iconic fashion choices, trends, and accessories that shaped the industry and created a dialogue. Coveted designs like Levi’s 501s, espadrilles, the Casio watch, and Diane Von Furstenberg’s wrap dress are disseminated into three parts – archetype, stereotype, and prototype – encouraging new designers, architects and engineers to reinvent these indispensable items and mould them in a way that would be better suited to the present and future. A complex approach which will incite a lot of conversation.

Pencil skirt interpreted for ‘Items: is Fashion Modern?’ Image : Museum Of Modern Art | © 2017 Bobby Doherty via designboom.com

In essence, this exhibition explores the subjugation of “fashion” as a symbol of cultural stereotypes, histories and personas and provides a vital and fresh perspective of fashion beyond aesthetics.

The exhibition runs until January 2018.