museum pieces

New York’s Most Fashionable Museum Is Turning 50

Photo: The Museum at FIT

To celebrate its 50th year, the Museum at the Fashion Institute of Technology is offering fashion lovers a look back at the most inventive clothing in America over the past half-century. Noteworthy pieces include a lobster dress designed by Elsa Schiaparelli and Salvador Dalí, a Rick Owens batwing ensemble inspired by vampire movies, and a pair of glass slippers. All are featured in the new show “Exhibitionism: 50 Years of The Museum at FIT” which opened last weekend, and admission is free.

“Who would’ve thought we’ve been around since 1969?” said Valerie Steele, director and chief curator of The Museum at FIT. She chose 80 looks from more than 200 past FIT exhibitions, aiming to start a conversation between “influences on fashion and things that fashion influences.” Her selections span from “Fashion and Surrealism,” one of the museum’s first shows, which proposed the idea of fashion as art, and “China Chic: East Meets West” which traced the influence of Chinese culture on Western fashions (FIT’s show pre-dated the Costume Institute’s 2015 show, “China: Through the Looking Glass.”)

Steele said she’d been closely following New York Fashion Week. “We’re doing a big, big show of shoes in a couple of years. We already have 4,000 pairs of shoes in our collection from the 18th century till now, but we’re acquiring more. I’m looking at the crazy Uggs for example that Eckhaus Latta had, and I’m thinking, oh we should get more of those.”

Scroll for a preview of the exhibit. “Exhibitionism: 50 Years of The Museum at FIT,” is on view until April 20.

Rick Owens batwing outfit. Photo: Eileen Costa/The Museum at FIT
Pieces from China Chic: East Meets West (1999) Photo: Eileen Costa/2019 The Museum at FIT
New York’s Most Fashionable Museum Is Turning 50