By Barbara Bellesi
Fashion Week hits New York in early September, and everyone who is anyone in the fashion industry will be on hand to gaze at models as they strut down the runway wearing the latest creations. Of course, unless you happen to be close friends with Anna Wintour or Beyonce and Jay Z, the likelihood of your getting past the tents is slim to none. You could go window-shopping to get your dose of couture, or … you could spend a day at a museum?!
That’s right: Museums aren’t just for housing classic paintings or ancient artifacts. Some museums have permanent collections featuring centuries of clothing and accessories, while others launch special exhibits that focus on a particular trend in fashion. Here are a few museum options that will allow you to get up close and personal with some jaw-dropping ensembles and accessories this fall.
The Costume Institute at the Metropolitan Museum of Art
1000 Fifth Avenue (at 82nd Street)
New York, NY 10028
Most people think of the Metropolitan Museum of Art in regard to the art that’s hanging on the wall, but don’t forget about the art that’s hanging on the rack. The Met’s Costume Institute houses over 35,000 costumes and accessories reflecting fashions of five continents dating back to the 15th century.
The Costume Institute space underwent an extensive renovation and reopened in 2014 as the Anna Wintour Costume Center. The Center is home to exhibition galleries, a costume conservation laboratory, storage facilities, and the world-renowned Irene Lewisohn Costume Reference Library.
A visit to the Costume Institute is a feast for the eyes any day, thanks to two year-round tours offered. “Fashion in Art” focuses on costume history in relation to the Met’s armor, textile, sculpture, painting, and decorative arts collections. “Costume: The Art of Dress” is an audio guide spotlighting historical fashions throughout the galleries of the Met and is narrated by actress and “Sex and the City” fashionista, Sarah Jessica Parker.
Fashion Fact: Anna Wintour, the famous Vogue editor, is a trustee of the Met. Wintour used her clout in the fashion and publishing worlds to raise about $125 million over the past 20 years for the Costume Institute.
The Museum at Fashion Institute of Technology
Seventh Avenue at 27th Street
New York, NY 10001
In a town packed full of world-renowned learning institutions, there’s one that’s school that stands out from the crowd: Fashion Institute of Technology (FIT). The Museum at FIT completes the ensemble.
From September 18 – December 5, The Museum at FIT’s Special Exhibitions Gallery will play host to “Fashion Underground: The World of Susanne Bartsch.” Bartsch has been one of the key movers and shakers of Manhattan nightlife since the 1980s, thanks in large part to her affinity for outrageous styles in fashion and makeup.
The Swiss-born Bartsch came to New York by way of London and opened her Soho boutique in 1981, selling clothing and accessories from the likes of John Galliano and Leigh Bowery. Five years later, she was hosting parties at clubs like Savage and Copacabana, attracting an eclectic group of people from all over the city. This exhibit is a veritable love letter to Bartsch and her mutual love affair with fashion and New York City.
Fashion Fact: Stay tuned this December for the opening of The Museum at FIT’s “Denim: Fashion’s Frontier,” which pays homage to denim in all its glory and its ever-changing history from durable workwear to indispensible fashion.
200 Eastern Parkway
Brooklyn, NY 11238
Give your beloved stilettos a break, lace up your coolest kicks, and make tracks to “The Rise of Sneaker Culture” exhibit over at the Brooklyn Museum. Over 150 pairs of sneakers are on display, detailing the shoe’s evolution from sensible shoe to status symbol through October 4th. Shoes from manufacturers like Adidas, Converse, and Puma, as well as high-fashion designers like Prada, are part of the exhibit. Visitors will also view pairs from private collectors, including hip-hop’s Darryl “DMC” McDaniels.
In addition to focusing on the fashion, “Sneaker Culture” will present the social and cultural implications of this iconic shoe, which is seen all over the world on billions of pairs of feet every day. The exhibit is rounded out by photographs, design sketches, film, and interactive media that feature the history, trends, and marketing campaigns that have all helped the sneaker secure – ahem – a footing in the fashion world.
Fashion Fact: The Brooklyn Museum amassed quite the collection of fashion, but outgrew its closet space over the years. The Brooklyn Museum Costume Collection is now housed at the Met.