4 New Fashion Exhibits Translate High Style For The Masses

It’s clear to cultural programming committees across the country that we want to see more fashion.

We want more fashion and jewelry in museums. Whether it’s because interest in fashion designers is more a part of mainstream culture now or because clothing seems more accessible to us than a Picasso or a Julian Schnabel. Either way, our appetites were whetted by the MET’s game-changing Alexander McQueen show and museum programming committees across the country have taken note.

With some fantastic new and ongoing exhibitions on view, and some exciting ones slated for 2012, a visit makes for a great low impact fashion experience. And here’s another green idea – let the creativity you see inspire yours. With thrift stores teaming with clothing and old sewing machines headed for landfill, interpret an idea that inspires you and recreate it to quell that need we all have for newness in our wardrobes. Here are four don’t-miss exhibitions to check out.

While she may not be eating much for a while, style icon and Guinness heiress Daphne Guinness has had the energy to put together the new exhibition Daphne Guinness at the museum at FIT, which opened last Friday and will run through January 7. If you enjoyed the MET exhibit, head over to see her extraordinary wardrobe that features plenty more McQueen’s. As a close friend of the late designer and as the owner of McQueen muse Isabella Blow’s entire clothing collection, the exhibition will include more than two dozen McQueen garments which have never been displayed. An unlikely voice against copious consumption, she famously said, “We need better things, not more. We should not pollute the world with meaningless, unused things when we can make and support things of rare and precious beauty.”

In every clothing collector’s paragon of rare finds is an original Giorgio di Sant Angelo. The enigmatic designer’s first fashion retrospective opened over the weekend at Arizona’s Phoenix Art Museum. Running through Feb, 12, the long-overdue show features more than 40 ensembles and accessories, along with sketches and collection books that span the designer’s career from the late 1960s to the early 1990s. Known for his ability to drape a unique look on the spot, his signature kaleidoscope prints, flowing fabrics, Native American touches, fringing and piled-on color and clashing textures are influences recently seen in Rodarte, Proenza Schouler and Isabel Marant’s collections. Underscoring the way the industry reinvents and revisits its history as well as the thrill of costume history, the show could not be more timely.

Don’t miss the last week of Houston’s Museum of Fine Arts exhibit Helmut Newton: White Women, Sleepless Nights, Big Nudes. The first large-scale U.S. exhibition of Newton’s work, it features the entire contents from his first three groundbreaking books: White Women (1976), Sleepless Nights (1978), and Big Nudes (1981). Whether you agree or not about his highly-charged, sexual take on modern female identity, his influence on the fashion industry is undisputed with designer Karl Lagerfeld and Vogue editor Anna Wintour contributing to the new exhibition catalogue.

For those that enjoy the pure fantasy escape from everyday lives that fashion can offer, put the October 22nd opening of Charles James: Genius Deconstructed at the Chicago History Museum on your calendars. The museum boasts the second largest collection of James pieces in the world among its 50,000-piece costume collection. The show explores the history of couture fashion designer Charles James and why nearly 40 years after his death, the engineered perfection of his complex and unique constructions still inspire today’s designers and fashion lovers.




Rowena Ritchie

Rowena is EcoSalon’s West Coast Fashion Editor and currently resides in San Francisco, CA.