Sneak Peek: FIT's “The Great Designers” Exhibit

"The Great Designers" exhibit at FIT is a "who's who" guide to top fashion talents, from Valentino to Alexander McQueen.

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Looks from Mugler and Versace will be on display at FIT's "Great Designers" exhibit.
Opening this week, "The Great Designers" is a two-part exhibition that showcases masterpieces of fashion from the Museum at FIT's permanent collection. Including work from the likes of Oscar de la Renta, Valentino, Rick Owens and Vivienne Westwood, the exhibit acts a kind of "who's who" guide to the top tier of the fashion industry. Here, a lavish, pouf-skirted ensemble produced by Boudicca in 2006.
"There is no one criteria for a great designer," assistant curator Jennifer Farley tells us. "Some common characteristics include a keen understanding of cut and construction, color sense, or a unique, fashion forward perspective. Work by many of the designers included in the exhibition encompasses a mix of these qualities." Here, an avant-garde look (complete with cape) from Rick Owens.
A collectible book from Taschen (available in Spring 2012) will include all 500 looks from the Museum's permanent collection. With such a comprehensive range of looks to choose from, editing proved a challenge when it came to organizing the exhibit. "We wanted to include a representative sample of work by designers that have become household names, such as Christian Dior and Chanel, as well as showcase our collection of avant-garde design by labels such as Boudicca and Gareth Pugh," says Farley. Here, a classic lace look by Valentino.
Curators focused on stand-out looks that really represented each designer's aesthetic. "We also considered how the garments and accessories would look in the overall layout of the exhibition," says Farley. This armor-like evening look represents the essence of Thierry Mugler, from the shiny metallic material to the fish-like scales.
The exhibit was eventually narrowed down to 100 total looks, 50 of which will be included in "Part One," including this elaborately embroidered coat designed by Alexander McQueen for Givenchy.
This glorious, full-skirted evening look is quintessential Oscar de la Renta, from the lantern sleeves to the cheerful color combination.
Versace's iconic pop art prints are on proud display in part one of The Great Designers exhibit. Here, a Warholian skirt suit with hundreds of colorful Marilyns.
One of Karl Lagerfeld's earliest designs for Chanel (circa 1986) also makes an appearance. Even with shoulder pads and hip-padding, the look still feels remarkably relevant.
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