New Exhibition: “Statement Sleeves” at Museum At FIT

Colleen Hill and Dr. Valerie Steele

It’s nearly February 14, when many wear their hearts on their sleeves annually. Last night was the perfect time for The Museum at FIT to celebrate “Statement Sleeves,” their new exhibition (on view through August 25) by curated by Colleen Hill, with a champagne and hors d’oeuvres reception.

Suppose you’re wondering what constitutes a statement sleeve. In that case, it refers to “a sleeve style that is exaggerated, embellished, elaborately constructed, or otherwise eye-catching to the extent that it defines a garment,” according to MFIT’s press brochure.

Photo by Laurel Marcus

The exhibition showcases more than 70 fashionable arm coverings from the eighteenth century. Rather than grouped chronologically, they are organized more by theme or complementary aesthetics. Categories include Puffs and Folds, Pleats and Ruffles, Embellishment and Adornment, Performance and Purpose, Sheer and Split, and Asymmetrical and Mismatched — together they tell a story of past and present trends, status, taste and personality.

Photo by Marilyn Kirschner

Diverse fashions from Christian Dior, Balenciaga, Christian Francis Roth, Tom Ford, Schiaparelli, Madame Gres, Stephen Burrows, Rudi Gernreich, Christopher John Rogers, Vivienne Westwood, and many others are featured as examples of various sleeve styles.

From left: Raissa Bretana, Gretchen Fenston, Va Va Voon, & Samuel Snodgrass, – Photo by Laurel Marcus

An eclectic crowd gathered in the main floor reception space. It was a tad difficult to maneuver in the exhibition space, especially if you were wearing your own version of space-occupying statement sleeves (that would be me.)

Lauren Levison & Marilyn Kirschner – Photo by Laurel Marcus

Guests included Freddie Leiba, Rebecca Moses, Constance White, Nicole Fischelis, Miki Higasa, Susan Scafidi, Marilyn Kirschner, Laurel Marcus, Robert DiMauro (who arrived from the Stan Herman “Uncross Your Legs” book party in Soho), Bibhu Mohapatra, Eleanore Kennedy, Michele Gerber Klein, Beau McCall and Souleo, Amy Rosi, Lauren Levison, Lizzie Asher and many others.

 From left: Leslee Heskiaoff, Khamsone Sirimanivong. Laurel Marcus, Amanda Zucker – Photo by Marilyn Kirschner

While some guests tried to be on theme, there were not as many with “something up their sleeve” as one might imagine. One possible excuse is that getting a coat on over a voluminous sleeve, a Dolman, or even an extended bell sleeve is nearly impossible. I spent most of the evening running around “looking for Mr. (or Mrs.) Goodsleeve” (ancient Diane Keaton reference) to little avail.

Susan Scafidi & Curator Tanya Melendez – Photo by Laurel Marcus

Conversations ranged from chit-chats with the building architect about the Museum’s renovation of the lower level exhibition floor (now in process) to Chanel’s recent win in their copyright infringement lawsuit against “What Goes Around Comes Around” (more on that when I attend Fashion Law Institute’s fashion week seminar on Friday) with Prof. Scafidi.

Lizzie Asher & Lauren Levison – Photo by Marilyn Kirschner

Overall, the mood was upbeat, with guests ready to “roll up their sleeves” and have a good time. After all, if you can’t have fun with fashion, what’s left to do that’s still legal?

Latest Comments:

  1. Thank you for that RF…’s an ongoing complaint..and it is NOT about looking’s about looking and feeling great and…

  2. So refreshing to see you aging gracefully and looking fabulous! Too many people fixated on looking young instead of appreciating…

  3. Hi Marilyn..”ABOUT TURNING 75″….You can add me to your almost 75 llist…Oct 29th of this year. I am so glad…

  4. I discovered Dries 15 years ago as I was walking through Barbeys NY in LA. There was this amazing coat…

Laurel Marcus

OG journo major who thought Strunk & White's "The Elements of Style" was a fashion guide. Desktop comedienne -- the world of fashion gives me no shortage of material.

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