Fashion at the Museums

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Here’s a great way to combine your love of fashion and museums.  Here are four exhibits that are open or will be soon that are not to be missed.

March 2-Aug. 20.  Counter-Couture: Handmade Fashion in an American Counterculture

Installation view of Counter-Couture: Handmade Fashion in an American Counterculture. Photo by Jenna Bascom. Courtesy of the Museum of Arts and Design

Yep. Some of us tomatoes are old that enough that our ‘60s amd ‘70s clothes are being celebrating in a museum.  This new exhibit at the Museum of Arts and Design features the handmade fashion and style of the 1960s and 1970s. Against the backdrop of the Vietnam War protests and the civil rights movements, hippies, flower children, and idealistic young people shunned the cultural standards of their parents.  The pursuit of a personal style proved a transcendental tool toward self-realization, enlightenment, and freedom from conventions. Counter-Couture exhibits garments, jewelry, and accessories by American makers who crafted the very reality that they craved, on the margins of society and yet at the center of an epochal shift. Now at the Museum of Arts and Design, 2 Columbus Circle, NYC.   Get the details.

April 4-Aug. 6. Judith Leiber Crafting a New York Story

Judith Leiber. Sonia Delauney envelope in multicolored karung and calf, 1990 Photo by Gary Mamay; courtesy the Leiber Collection

Attention Judith Leiber handbag fans.  Do not miss this soon be opened exhibit, Judith Leiber: Crafting a New York Story.  It tells the tale of this illustrious craftswoman, designer, and businesswoman. The exhibition includes handbags that encompass the history of her eponymous company, which Leiber founded in 1963 at the age of forty-two, through 2004, when she designed her last handbag. Although biographical in nature, the exhibition also explores the gendered significance of the handbag in twentieth-century Western culture, and the centrality of immigrant entrepreneurship in the fabric of New York.  Exhibit opens April at the Museum of Arts and Design. Get the details.

Now – April 15. Paris Refashioned, 1957-1968.

Head to the Museum at FIT for a new exhibit that highlights one of the most groundbreaking time periods in fashion history. While many books and exhibitions about this era position London as the center of innovative, youth-oriented design, this limited perspective overlooks the significant role that Paris continued to play in the fashion industry.

Paris Refashioned, 1957-1968 examines the combined influence of French haute couture, ready-to-wear, and popular culture during this era, with particular emphasis on how fashion was perceived and promoted by the American fashion press.  The Museum at FIT 227 W. 27th St. Get more details.

Opens Oct. 17. Items: Is Fashion Modern?

This is MoMA’s first fashion-centric exhibition in 73 years and it takes a look at 111 items, documenting their significance over the past century. Pieces include Diane von Furstenberg’s 1974 wrap dress, Charles James’ 1932 “Taxi” dress, a Fruit of the Loom T-shirt and other articles that have become the fabric of American culture. It explores the present, past, and future of garments, accessories, and accoutrements that have had a strong impact on history and society in the 20th and 21st centuries, and continue to hold currency today.

The 111 designs include the transformative Levi’s 501s, the Casio watch, and the Little Black Dress, and as well as ancient and culturally charged items such as the kippah and the keffiyeh. Each item will be displayed in the incarnation that made it significant in the last 116 years—the stereotype—along with contextual materials that trace back to its historical archetype. Get the details.


New York City has some of the best museums in the world, large and small. Exploring NYC's cultural activities is highlight of living or visiting here.


New York City has some of the best museums in the world, large and small. Exploring NYC's cultural activities is highlight of living or visiting here.

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