A Queer History of Fashion
Special Exhibitions Gallery
September 13, 2013 – January 4, 2014
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|Man’s three piece silk velvet suit, 1790-1800, France. Museum purchase, 2010.98.1.||Pierre Balmain, Jean Cocteau, Christian Bérard, Riding Costume for L'Aigle à Deux Têtes, 1947. Photo courtesy Beverley Birks.||Christian Dior, dress in champagne silk satin, 1954, France. Gift of Sally Cary Iselin, 71.213.20.|
Exhibition curators Fred Dennis, senior curator of costume, and Valerie Steele, director and chief curator of The Museum at FIT, spent two years researching and curating the exhibition. They worked with an advisory committee of eminent scholars, including professors George Chauncey (author of Gay New York), Shaun Cole (author of Don We Now Our Gay Apparel), Jonathan Katz (author/curator of Hide and Seek), Peter McNeil (co-editor of The Men’s Fashion Reader), and Vicki Karaminas (co-editor of the forthcoming Queer Style), as well as FIT faculty and fashion professionals.
“This is about honoring the gay and lesbian designers of the past and present,” said Dennis. “By acknowledging their contributions to fashion, we want to encourage people to embrace diversity.”
“We also hope that this exhibition will transform our understanding of fashion history,” added Steele. “For many years, gays and lesbians were hidden from history. By acknowledging the historic influence of gay designers, and by emphasizing the important role that fashion and style have played within the LGBTQ community, we see how central gay culture has been to the creation of modern fashion.”
|Alexander McQueen, silk dress from Plato's Atlantis Collection, Spring 2010, England. Museum purchase, 2012.36.2.||Gianni Versace, leather evening dress, Autumn/Winter 1992. Photo courtesy Fashion Group Foundation.||Jean Paul Gaultier, shirred orange velvet dress with cone bust, 1984, France. Museum purchase, P92.8.1.|
From Cristobal Balenciaga and Christian Dior to Yves Saint Laurent and Alexander McQueen, many of the greatest fashion designers of the past century have been gay. Organized in roughly chronological order, the exhibition explores the history of modern fashion through the lens of gay and lesbian life and culture, addressing subjects including androgyny, dandyism, idealizing and transgressive aesthetic styles, and the influence of subcultural and street styles, including drag, leather, and uniforms.
The exhibition will trace how the gay vernacular styles changed after Stonewall, becoming increasingly “butch.” Lesbian style also evolved, moving from the “butch-femme” paradigm toward an androgynous, anti-fashion look, which was, in turn, followed by various diversified styles that often referenced subcultures like punk.
|Jean Paul Gaultier, ensemble with kilt and trousers, worn by Darrell Moos. Lent by Xavier Chaumette.||Man's ensemble: nylon flight jacket, t-shirt and jeans, c.1978, USA. Gift of Tony Santore, In Memory of Jack Fenstermacher, 88.134.28.||Man's ensemble: 1987 Levi's denim jacket, 1992 Mr. Pearl leather corset, 1994 Abel Villarreal leather pants, 1992 Wesco boots, 1970s leatherman cap. Worn and lent by Scott Ewalt.|
For more specifics about the exhibition, read the press release.
Exhibition design is by Joel Sanders, well-known architect and author of Stud: The Architecture of Masculinity.
Interview with Fred Dennis and Valerie Steele
Video produced by Keren Aronoff and Robbie Imes. Copyright HERE MEDIA
This exhibition has been made possible thanks to the generosity of: