April 27, 2011

"His & Hers" at F.I.T.

I was walking along Seventh Avenue the other day when I passed the Fashion Institute of Technology and realized that I had not visited the Museum at FIT in quite a while. So having some time to spare before I had to be at my appointment, I took a peek at the current exhibition "His & Hers".

The aim of the show is to explore the similarities and differences in men's and women's fashions from the eighteenth century to the present. Not surprisingly the early styles are more gender specific in design than the "unisex" modes of the late twentieth century but there were certain areas where feminine and masculine overlapped even in the 1700s.

This evolution of gender neutrality in fashion is interesting to observe through examples of styles from the museum's own collection. Beginning with the premise that historical fancy dress for both men and women was often lavishly embroidered and decorated in a manner that would be considered "feminine" today and continuing through the "masculinization" of women's clothing with the popularity of divided skirts for sporting costumes, we can clearly trace the development of such avant garde statements as Yves Saint Laurent's iconic "Smoking" tuxedo for women in the 1980's.

The show offers many examples of men's and women's clothing from opulent antique gowns and court suits to "mod" jumpsuits from the groovy sixties. On view are evening clothes, sportswear, wedding attire, nightclothes, career suits and casual clothes all intended to enhance the idea that masculine and feminine, if not interchangeable, have more in common than one thinks.

"His & Hers" may not fully make the case for equality in dress, but it does give one something to think about - but hurry, the show closes on the 10th of May!

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