By Elizabeth Patterson
Rodarte, Comme des Garçons, Emilio Pucci and Vivienne Westwood are just a few of the names you can find at the Museum at FIT’s newly revamped archives. The archives are arguably the most important part of the museum, keeping clothing that ranges from a few years old to a few decades old in pristine condition. The museum recently got ultramodern storage units with lighting and ventilation features for their delicate clothing.
The Museum at FIT boasts a collection to rival The Costume Institute. Clothing from the 18th century to as recently as 2014 are featured in their vast archives. These clothes are kept in their storage units, which are categorized in alphabetical order. One of the collections in the archive is Balenciaga by Cristobal Balenciaga – the Museum’s chief curator Valerie Steele stated that Nicolas Ghesquière paid these collections a visit when he first started at the luxury house. A large selection of early Azzedine Alaia, Chanel by Coco Chanel, Christian Dior, Charles James and Yves Saint Laurent are all also part of the collections. The archives serve as a veritable history lesson on the many changes, trends, and names fashion has experienced from year to year and decade to decade.
Steele has said that her main focus in collating these items is education. The many exhibits the museum puts on yearly are all created with the aim to have the guest leaving with more knowledge than before. There is certainly a story to be told in looking at the journey of clothing from earlier times to present-day. How did dresses get so short and light when they were once cumbersome and restricting? What was casual dress before jeans and a t-shirt? And there is also fashion’s own internal history and dialogue, as the evolution of new styles and the emergence of new materials had its impact on the design scene and in turn, the world.
You can view some of the many pieces housed in the Museum at FIT’s archives by going to their exhibits. Upcoming exhibits include “Denim: Fashion’s Frontier”, which examines the transformation of denim from classic jeans to avant-garde dresses and other non-traditional styles and will run from December 1, 2015 to May 7, 2016. “Fairy Tale Fashion”, which takes a look at enchanted inspiration on the runway, runs from January 15 to April 16, 2016.