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Youthquake! The 1960s Fashion Revolution

Cheri Fein, executive director, Public and Media Relations
press@fitnyc.edu or 212.217.4700

On View at The Museum at FIT in New York City

March 6 through April 7, 2012

The Museum at FIT and the Fashion Institute of Technology’s Master of Arts program in Fashion and Textile Studies: History, Theory, Museum Practice present Youthquake! The 1960s Fashion Revolution. Featuring over 30 garments, accessories, videos, and other related media, the exhibition will explore the dramatic impact of youth culture on fashion during the 1960s, a decade defined by the ascendance of young people – who were warning each other not to trust anyone over 30 – as a political, social, and aesthetic force.

At the Fashion Institute of Technology (FIT), candidates for the Master of Arts in Fashion and Textile Studies present an annual exhibition at The Museum at FIT as part of their curriculum. They serve as conservators, curators, educators, exhibition designers, publicists, registrars, and researchers, drawing primarily from the museum’s collection to create the exhibition.  

Dress with photograph of Bob Dylan by
Harry Gordon, paper, black ink, 1968,
England, gift of Estelle Ellis. Photograph
©The Museum at FIT.
Giorgio di Sant’Angelo, ensemble, suede
and cotton, 1968, USA, gift of Marina
Schiano. Photograph ©The Museum at
FIT.

Youthquake! The 1960s Fashion Revolution will feature clothing and accessories from cutting-edge boutique and mass-market labels, as well as high fashion ready-to-wear and couture. Exhibition highlights from groundbreaking boutiques will include a metallic copper mini-dress s designed for New York’s trendsetting Paraphernalia boutique and a Day-Glo man’s shirt by pioneering British designer and boutique-owner John Stephen.  

Paraphernalia, dress, copper lamé
knit, circa 1967, USA, gift of Mrs.
Ulrich Franzen. Photograph ©The
Museum at FIT.
John Stephen, man’s shirt, printed
cotton, circa 1965, England, gift
of Valerie Steele. Photograph ©The
Museum at FIT.

The term “youthquake” was most famously used by American Vogue editor Diana Vreeland. However, the epicenter of youth-generated style during the 1960s was London, where young shoppers began flocking to the new fashion boutiques that energetic, equally young designers seemed to be opening almost daily. A powerful consumer class was starting to take shape, and similar boutiques began opening internationally. Some of the designers whose garments were sold in these shops began developing lower-priced specialty lines in order to reach a broader audience.

Regardless of which youth group was redefining fashion at the moment – the early 1960s Mods or the Hippies later in the decade – their styles were quickly appropriated by mass marketers and couturiers alike. Mass producers made affordable versions of the new designs and hired young celebrities to sell them. To illustrate this, a pair of Trimfit tights “inspired by” fashion icon Twiggy will be displayed. The influence of music on 1960s fashion will be represented by a pair of Wing Dings shoes featuring a Beatles motif and a paper dress stamped with Bob Dylan’s image, which also exemplifies the literal disposability of the era’s fashions.  

Trimfit, tights “inspired by
Twiggy” In original packaging,
nylon, paper, 1967-68. USA,
gift of Dorothy T. Globus.
Photograph ©The Museum
at FIT.
Wing Dings, boots printed with images of The Beatles, cotton
canvas, 1964, USA, museum purchase. 1967-68. USA, gift of
Dorothy T. Photograph ©The Museum at FIT.

The exuberance of youthquake fashions also found expression in the work of forward-thinking couturiers. Designers such as Yves Saint Laurent began producing ready-to-wear lines that helped to ensure their fiscal survival. An example of Saint Laurent’s iconic 1968 Safari tunic from his Rive Gauche boutique will be shown. A man’s bespoke suit by Ruben Torres, which features a Nehru collar and a bold animal print, will attest to youthquake’s infiltration of made-to-order clothing.

As the decade drew to a close, the Mod style ceded to that of the Hippies, who, in accordance with their anti-consumerist beliefs, championed shopping at thrift stores. Nonetheless, as evidenced by a 1968 suede vest and printed cotton maxi-skirt ensemble by New York-based designer Giorgio di Sant’Angelo, Hippie style was quickly commodified, marketed, and sold at various price points.

Youthquake! The 1960s Fashion Revolution will be on view from March 6 through April 7, 2012. Co-curators Tracy Jenkins and Cassidy Zachary will give public tours of the exhibition on March 14 and March 19, as part of the museum’s Fashion Culture series. A website created in conjunction with the exhibition will include educational resources and further information about fashion in the 1960s.

A Fashion Museum

The Museum at FIT is the only museum in New York City dedicated solely to the art of fashion. Best known for its innovative and award-winning exhibitions, which have been described by Roberta Smith in The New York Times as “ravishing,” the museum has a collection of more than 50,000 garments and accessories dating from the 18th century to the present. Like other fashion museums, such as the Musée de la Mode, the Mode Museum, and the Museo de la Moda, The Museum at FIT collects, conserves, documents, exhibits, and interprets fashion. The museum’s mission is to advance knowledge of fashion through exhibitions, publications, and public programs. Visit www.fitnyc.edu/museum.

The museum is part of the Fashion Institute of Technology (FIT), a college of art and design, business and technology educating more than 10,000 students annually. FIT, a college of the State University of New York (SUNY), offers more than 45 majors leading to the AAS, BFA, BS, MA, MFA, and MPS degrees. Visit fitnyc.edu.

The Couture Council is a membership group of fashion enthusiasts that helps support the exhibitions and programs of The Museum at FIT. The Couture Council Award for Artistry of Fashion is given to a selected designer at a benefit luncheon every September. For information on the Couture Council, call 212 217.4532 or email couturecouncil@fitnyc.edu.

Fashion and Textile Studies at FIT

FIT’s Master of Arts program in Fashion and Textile Studies: History, Theory, Museum Practice prepares students for careers as curators, conservators, collections managers, and historians in the field of dress studies. For more information, visit fitnyc.edu/fashiontextilehistory.

Museum Hours

Tuesday-Friday–noon-8 pm
Saturday–10 am-5 pm
Closed Sunday, Monday, and legal holidays.
Admission is free and open to the public.

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