by Frankie Jay
"Fairy Tale Fashion" @ Fashion Institute of Technology ("FIT")
Seventh Avenue at 27th St, NYC. Ends April 16, 2016
If you grew up reading fairy tales (and perhaps still do) or want to be momentarily transported to a land of magic, wonder and exquisite tailoring, then get on your magic carpet and head over to the latest FIT exhibition, Fairy Tale Fashion.
As background, I have always loved fashion and admired haute couture, but never really ‘felt it’. That totally changed once I saw the Alexander McQueen exhibition in 2011 ‘Savage Beauty’ organized by the Costume Institute at the New York Metropolitan Museum of Art. That brilliant exhibition did not just make you stare blindly at the clothes and um and ah; it physically took you into the mind of McQueen and now you saw the clothes through his eyes, as he imagined them and the settings he fantasized they would be worn in. Now you were no longer in New York City. Instead you had been transplanted to a recreated Scottish castle with tartan finishes settings, while in the adjoining room a ghostly figure (who just happened to be Kate Moss) swirled in a holographic mist next to you, wearing a white ethereal McQueen dress.
Fairy Tale Fashion at the FIT manages to achieve a significant element of this trance-like state the McQueen exhibition took you into, because in addition to their well-done fantasy setting; they already know we have in our minds eye how the fairy tales look to each of us and we can each imagine if not superimpose the settings for the clothes to work in, based on what we read or had the stories told to us at night before bed.
Therefore when you see the clothes they appear completely natural, even though they have fantasia as their mark. One of the surprise delights was seeing the simple original c.1942 dress Dorothy’s from Wizard of Oz, by Adrian. In a complete opposite effect, the J. Mendel, Snow queen ensemble reminded me of Lily Aldridge’s white hooded outfit from last year’s Taylor Swift’s Bad Blood video, though the Mendel house has produced something far more glamorous.
While you're caught up in your own fantasies and admiring the clothes don’t forget from time-to-time to look down at the plates and happen see the gods and goddesses of fashion names from recent past to present creating these elaborate outfits: Zandra Rhodes, Jean Paul Gaultier, Rick Owens, Thom Browne, Charles James, Dolce and Gabbana, Prada and Tom Ford amongst many, many others.
So go see the Mad Hatter, the big bad wolf, the wicked witch and let down you hair just like Rapunzel at this excellent exhibition.