Fashion Bytes

“Fashion is born of small facts, trends, or even politics, never by trying to make little pleats and furbelows, by trinkets, by clothes easy to copy, or by the shortening or lengthening of a skirt.”  — Elsa Schiaparelli

Image from National Museums Northern Ireland

On Thursday of last week, April 21, the New York Times published an article, “Museums Are Finding Room for Couturiers”, about fashion in museums.  The article discusses the sometimes corporate collaborations museums enter into to put on these exhibits, sometimes with the fashion house whose garments are being displayed, a topic Tove discussed in a previous post here at Worn Through. Monica‘s post about the attack on Philip Sallon only served to re-emphasize the importance of dress studies.  However, the article also discussed the validity of fashion exhibits, questioning whether they were just space-fillers or merely commercial endeavours to fund the “real art” shows.

The article has been very controversial amongst the fashion and museum community online, with Virgina Postrel pointing out that she had discussed the issue several years ago in The Atlantic and a number of rebuttals appearing on the web.

As Lou Taylor mentions in her 2004 book, Establishing Dress History, the collection of costume for display is a centuries-old practice, starting with the collection of “native dress” by explorers to be exhibited as part of the “curiosity cabinets” that eventually evolved into the private and later the public museum.  So in actuality the exhibits cited in the NYT article are merely the continuation of a long tradition.  However, clothing still struggles to be considered worthy of  museum attention or serious study.

What are your thoughts on the article? In what ways do you feel we can combat the general ignorance regarding the importance of clothing studies and their place in museums?

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  • John Kim April 26, 2011 01.00 pm

    Fashion is art, so I don’t see why they wouldn’t be in museums

  • Worn Through » Fashion Bytes
    June 28, 2011 - 5:02 am

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