Look At Those Clothes!

Musings on style and fashion

Hop Some Museums

Museum by mrshrubyMichelle Finamore, a curator of Textiles and Fashion Arts at Boston’s Museum of Fine Arts, told me that more and more museums are taking fashion seriously and mounting exhibitions that explore its meanings in history and culture. (Lucky me—I got to interview her about the Museum’s 2013–2014 “Think Pink” exhibition while writing a piece for SJ Chronicle.) So true! Herewith, a handful of shows you might enjoy. If  you’re grounded while the Lear’s in for a tune-up, do some virtual cruising on the museum websites. They usually have great photos. And it’s free.

Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania / Halston and Warhol: Silver and Suede

Andy Warhol Museum, 18 May 2014–24 August, 2014

Seems these guys were besties. Who knew? Halston not only collected Warhol’s works but also appeared in some of them. From the museum’s website: “The exhibition integrates Halston’s garments and accessories with photography, video and paintings by Warhol.” Among the objects you can ogle: A pillbox hat that Halston designed for Jackie Kennedy in 1961. Once the show wraps up in Pittsburgh (Warhol’s home town), it will travel, so maybe you can catch it at a museum near you.

Springfield, Massachusetts / Brassy Bridal: Steampunk Wedding

Springfield Museums, 22 March 2014–28 September 2014

The website has background and getting-there info, but see their Pinterest board for photos of the wedding outfits, along with some other amazing stuff from the exhibition.

Never heard of Steampunk , or still trying to wrap your mind around what it is?  Here’s some help: “[Steampunk embodies] an alternative future where Victorian aesthetics and Industrial Age ingenuity meet, mix, and match with modern technology” (from “Steam Power” by Laura Holland, Preview Massachusetts, March 2014).

Antwerp, Belgium / Birds of Paradise: Feathers and Plumes in Fashion

ModeMuseum, 20 March 2014–24 August 2014

From the museum website: “An ode to the elegance and refinement of the application of plumes and feathers in fashion and haute couture.”  Just goes to show you that everything young was old once: Many designers this season made exuberant use of feathers (and fur). Gowns by Chanel,  Balenciaga, Givenchy, Alexander McQueen, Christian Dior, Nina Ricci, Luis Vuitton, Thierry Mugler, Giambatista Valli, Saint Laurent, and Ann Demeulemeester.

London, England / Wedding Dresses 1775–2014

Victoria and Albert Museum, 3 May 2014–15 March 2015

The museum website invites you to “trace the eternal fashion of the wedding dress and discover the most romantic, glamorous and iconic dresses from the last 200 years.” Astonishing, the range of styles people have chosen to be married in. See garments by Charles Frederick Worth, Charles James, Vivienne Westwood, Vera Wang, John Galliano, and many more. Among them: the purplish dress Dita Von Teese wore when she married Marilyn Manson in 2005. As for longevity, the dress  has lasted a lot longer than the marriage (around 2 years). Sigh. Clothes can do a lot, but not everything.





Categories: Art of Fashion, Been to a Museum Lately?

Tags: , , , , ,

2 replies

  1. Where’s the “punk” in steam punk?


    • Good question! Back in 1987, science fantasy author K.W. Jeter proposed the term “steampunk” as a good descriptor for the distinctive kind of fiction he, Tim Powers, and James Blaylock were writing. Tongue-in-cheekily, so the sources say, he connected their work to the cyberpunk fiction popular at the time. The “punk” in cyberpunk referred to the heroes (or anti-heroes) of those stories: gritty loners living by their wits as they battle for survival in ugly, dystopic, and savage post-apocalyptic worlds.

      Pretty grim stuff. Their steamy cousins, on the other on the other hand, keep a bit of the grit and the rebelliousness but lean toward the much lighter and more romantic side. Their punkiness has to do with being outside the norm, yes, but in a way that’s all about optimism, creativity, individualism, and inventiveness. Steampunks are counter-conventional and spirited, full of energy, whimsy, and bravado—and in love with Victorian clothing and technology, merged with new-fangled and futuristic inventions.

      And in a very short time, the term Jeter coined to refer just to a subgenre of science fiction has burgeoned into a regular cultural phenomenon; we now have steampunk fashion, music, games, movies, and more. You can find lots of info about steampunk in all its many manifestations at Steampunk.com.

      Thanks for writing–hope you’ll keep reading!


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