FIT’S FASHION CAPITALS
By Naomi Barling
The New York Times wrote in a 2008 article titled “The Sun Never Sets on the Runway.” Menaing; at any given moment, somewhere in the world, a city is hosting a fashion week event. Fashion weeks continue to grow as emerging cities realize not just the economic value of the fashion industry, but the value of fashion as a mean to communicate identity and spread cultural influence throughout the world. The upcoming exhibition titled Global Fashion Capitals, at the Museum at FIT explores elements like economic conditions, government support and press interest and how these combined help create a globally relevant fashion city.
New York, London, Milan and Paris are known as the major fashion capitals of the world, but there are other cities across the globe with growing fashion industries. The exhibit will examine the rise of fashion cities throughout the world, and the events that enable emerging cities, such as Seoul, Shanghai, Berlin, Istanbul, Johannesburg, São Paulo, Mumbai and Stockholm, to develop their creatively and commercial presence on the fashion world stage.
The exhibit will feature more than 70 garments and accessories by designers from these cities. Items range from a spring 2015 beaded fringe dress by Lagos designer Lisa Folawiyo to a Yohji Yamamoto wooden corset and a Lie Sangbong printed ensemble from fall 2006. Many of the participating designers have never been featured in an American museum.
Global Fashion Capitals starts with a digital map, featuring the most current global fashion trends. Street style and runway images from 20 fashion capitals show each city’s unique point of view. The exhibition then continues thematically by city, beginning with the established fashion capitals of Paris, New York, Milan, and London followed by the emerging cities.
Different eras and crafts are separated by country and each country is represented by their most influential designers from over the years. For example: the couture designs of Charles Frederick Worth, an Englishman designer working in Paris, exemplify the emergence of the modern Parisian fashion system while a sporty knit suit by Gabrielle “Coco” Chanel from the 1930s is displayed alongside an elegant circa 1950 navy silk chiffon evening ensemble by Christian Dior.
Nettie Rosenstein, who, during the 1930s, competed with French designers, introduces New York with a green and brown iridescent ruched taffeta gown. There is a simple cotton dress by Claire McCardell from the 1950s that represents the active sportswear style of the American woman.
And the new wave of American designers such as Ralph Lauren, Donna Karan, and Alexander Wang, are showcased for creating a unique style of American ready-to-wear
Italian design, contrary to what people think, did not begin in Milan but in Rome. Magnificent couture dresses from Fontana and Valentino are featured in this section of the exhibition, along with exquisite examples of finely crafted accessories from Florence-based houses, including Gucci, Pucci, and Ferragamo.
In the emerging fashion capitals section, Global Fashion Capitals features talented designers from various cities throughout the world. Mapping the rise of Tokyo and Antwerp as fashion centers during the 1980s, and the designers of the “Japanese fashion revolution” like Yohji Yamamoto, Issey Miyake, and Rei Kawakubo. Designers of the Antwerp 6 are also showcased, including Walter Van Beirendonck and Dries Van Noten. Although these designers presented their collections in Paris, they drew significant attention to Tokyo and Antwerp as major fashion cities.
“Global Fashion Capitals” will open at the Museum at FIT on June 2 and run until November 14 and promises to be an insightful look into the ever evolving world of fashion design.