MoMA Announced Its First Fashion Exhibition After 73 Years

The Museum of Modern Art is going to present its second ever fashion exhibition. The exhibit will include a total of 111 pieces, among which visitors will see accessories and clothing. Every single piece has a significant role in the history of the fashion world over the last century. The event is called “Items: Is Fashion Modern?”, and it is a continuum of a 1944 exhibition.

The exhibition in 1944 was named “Are Clothes Modern” and it was organized by Bernard Rudofsky. Rudofsky was a renowned American architect, writer, collector, and curator. He was the first one to raise this question, and now 73 years later, MoMA is doing the same thing again. This time Paola Antonelli and Millar Fischer are behind the question. Antonelli is a senior curator in the department of Architecture and Design and director of research and development. Fischer is a curatorial assistant in the department of Architecture and Design.

MoMA Announced Its First Fashion Exhibition After 73 Years A-POC dress
Photo Courtesy: MoMA

“A powerful form of creative and personal expression that can be approached from multiple angles of study, fashion is unquestionably also a form of design, with its pitch struck in negotiations between form and function, means and goals, automated technologies and craftsmanship, standardization and customization, universality and self-expression,” said Paola Antonelli.

MoMA Announced Its First Fashion Exhibition After 73 Years Levi's Jeans
Photo Courtesy: Levi Strauss

The exhibit will take the whole sixth floor of the MoMA museum, and visitors will see many different styles that have influenced fashion. The 111 pieces will be divided into seven sections: the quest for new technologies; the changing body and silhouette; ideas of rebellion, emancipation, and modesty; athleticism and fashion; everyday uniforms; and messaging through clothing and power. Each item will be accompanied by pictures or video that explain the meaning.

MoMA Announced Its First Fashion Exhibition After 73 Years
Photo Courtesy: Monika Mogi

Among the most noticeable fashion moments are Levi’s 501 jeans, Paul Poiret harem pants, Issey Miyake’s A-POC dress, a Wonder bra, Calvin Klein Briefs, Nike Air Force 1, a Panama hat, Converse All-Stars, bottles of Chanel No.5, and Havaian flip-flops. The power section is presented with a multitude of little black dresses.  Most of the items are things from our everyday life. This exhibition is not meant to celebrate expensive couture designs, that only certain people can afford. The whole point is to turn to lifestyle clothing and show its importance. There are also some more expensive items such as a Hermes Birkin Bag, Vivienne Westwood x Louis Vuitton fanny pack, Moon Boots, Yves Saint Laurent Rive Gauche Le Smoking, Moncler jackets, Cartier’s love bracelet, Prada’s Vela backpack and more. All of these items have a very important meaning in the last 100 years.


MoMA Announced Its First Fashion Exhibition After 73 Years god save the queen shirt
Photo Courtesy: Mirrorpix

The section of the little black dress includes 10 different black dresses designed by popular designers. Some of the black dresses include LBD’s from Givenchy, Rick Owens, Arnold Scaasi, Chanel, Nervous System, Wolford, Christian Dior, Thierry Mugler, Versace and a 40s utility dress. Paola’s point was to present diversity and modesty. She included items such as hijabs, hoodies, a slip dress, kente cloth, leather pants, sari and bikini swimsuits. These items are part of the section about rebellion, emancipation, and modesty. In the part that involves new technologies, the Museum placed the leotard, Gore-Tex and Pierre Cardin’s Cosmos Collection.

MoMA Announced Its First Fashion Exhibition After 73 Years little black dress
Photo Courtesy: MoMA

“While MoMA has defined the history of modern design in so many ways, this history cannot be written without recourse to fashion. This is an area of design practice that MoMA has historically shied away from because of perceived ‘anti-modern tendencies,’ and its celebration of ephemerality in particular. However, fashion is a fundamental part of the history of modern design that provides a lens with which to better understand the culture, society, technology— in other words, humanity. Just as we have in past exhibitions confronted individual and collective relationships with new technology, violence, science, and safety, we want to explore the world using the items that we wear as our guides. It is exciting to make public the research that we have been pursuing for some time, and which will help us rethink our curatorial practices and wider design discourses.”- Paola explains.

MoMA Announced Its First Fashion Exhibition After 73 Years Sari
Photo Courtesy: BORDER&FALL

“Is Fashion Modern?” will be opened to the public starting from October 1 and it will last until January 28.

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