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The Art of Fashion
Fashion Institute of Technology
Luxury Exhibit
Seventh Avenue at 27 Street
Through November 10, 2007

Written by Jamie Sharpe
Photographed by Katherin Wermke

Opposite Photo: Rodarte Dress


Fashion Week just rolled out of town and the topic of luxury has been hotly debated in the media and everyone seems to have their own opinion of what the term actually means. The emotional space associated with the word “luxury” is visually analyzed in the ongoing exhibition at the Museum of the Fashion Institute of Technology (FIT). Held in the Fashion and Textile History Gallery, the presentation spans two-hundred-and-fifty-years of fashion history. The clothes and accessories highlight the high minded ideologies of the 1700’s with elaborate silk brocade dresses with remarkable embroidery and hand stitched details. The exhibition then moves on to cover reception dresses of the 1800’s and then on to today’s designer threads.

The Luxury display features more than one-hundred-and-fifty-garments that were expertly curated by Dr. Valerie Steele; the clothing selections reveal that, according to Dr. Steele, “fashion has meaning.” Steele went on to explain that people have always been moved by beautiful things, but in the past the masses had rarely been inspired to emulate them. Today (luxury) fashion has trickled down from the haute monde to a spectator sport that all can enjoy.

Steele further explains that in respect to the exhibit, “Everyone has a different definition of luxury, and true fashion is not reserved exclusively for the super rich”. Designer names like Lanvin, Channel, Dior, and Hermes are prominently displayed in the exhibit but they are juxtaposed against a stylish piece from H&M which was done by a traditionally pricey designer. Steele explains that she is not always a fan of this trend, because the construction in these (inexpensively copied) garments is often poor. However, when the execution is done well, this is lovely marriage of good design and affordability for the general public.

Overall, the Luxury exhibit raises provocative questions about fashion’s influence over history. The well chosen pieces demonstrate that despite marketing and media trends, the concept of luxury is still subjective and highly personal and people will always gravitate towards fashion that speaks to them individually.

For more information about the exhibit, log onto: http://www3.fitnyc.edu/museum/luxury/

Dr. Valerie Steele


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