Left: Cristobal Balenciaga, silk evening dress, Autumn/Winter 1957 Right: Nicolas Guesquiere for Cristobal Benciaga graffiti mini dress, Fall 2004.
On Monday night, Dr. Joyce Brown, Dr. Valerie Steele, Elle, and Redken hosted a reception to fete the opening of the new Fashion and Textile History Gallery at the Museum at FIT. According to the press release, “the gallery will feature changing selections from the Museum’s permanent collections, which are comprised of more than 50,000 garments and accessories dating from the 8th century to the present - with particular strength in contemporary designer fashion - some 30,000 textiles from the 6th to the 21st centuries, and 300,000 textile swatches and 1,300 sample books.”
This new addition was made possible through the “generosity” of Elle magazine and Redken (“with additional support provided by the members of the Couture Council of MFIT”), and not only did the evening’s hosts reflect this new ‘marriage’ (Elle’s Roberta Myers, Giles Bensimon, and Nina Garcia were there in force), but the partnership was evident in the gift bags guests received when leaving. In addition to the December issue of Elle Magazine, the bag was filled with 6 new heavy duty (and I mean HEAVY DUTY), life altering Redken hair products (two for men) with names like “go clean”, “grip tight”, “workforce 09”, and “headset 25”. Well, okay, so they may not really be ‘life altering’, but they will probably alter the look and feel of your hair.
When I originally contacted Valerie Steele to inquire what the dress code for the event was, she e-mailed, “Fashion Dress up - think historic costume”. Unfortunately, there didn’t seem to be too many creative attendees willing to get into the spirit. Dr. Steele looked elegant and chic in a timely and romantic black Victorian inspired Comme de Garcons coat with sculptural collar, and wearable artist/designer/lecturer Marjorie Nezin was dressed in her signature statement making and exuberant manner, but most others didn’t seem to make too much of a creative effort.
Because the guest list was larger than usual for a Museum event, the party was held in two places rather than one - the cocktail party was in a hall within the main building across the street from the Museum. While I understand this was done out of need, not logistics, or aesthetics, I felt it nonetheless took away some of the ambience and intimacy that comes with having everything centralized. The extra walking did however enable you burn off some of those calories from the rich and intoxicating vodka cocktails that were being served.
The event was certainly well attended by a divergent fashion group, including some of the city’s most well respected designers. Interestingly, of the designers who showed up (including Yeohlee, DooRi Chung, Alice Roi, Roland Nivelais, Zac Posen), Zac was the only one who actually had a dress on display (it was Zac’s voluminous raffia ballgown from 2004 that he donated to the Museum).