The Museum at NYC’s Fashion Institute of Technology has been known to host some pretty fabulous special exhibits, and the only bummer about them is that you usually are not allowed to take photographs of the clothes. This restriction can really take the fun out of it, because if i can’t take pictures, it’s like I wasn’t even there. Fortunately, at the Museum’s current exhibit, Fairy Tale Fashion, photography is not only allow, it is encouraged. And that is a fantastic thing, because this exhibit is just insane.
Fairy Tale Fashion is a unique and imaginative exhibition that examines fairy tales through the lens of high fashion. In versions of numerous fairy tales by authors such as Charles Perrault, the Brothers Grimm, and Hans Christian Andersen, it is evident that dress is often used to symbolize a character’s transformation, vanity, power, or privilege. The importance of Cinderella’s glass slippers is widely known, for example, yet these shoes represent only a fraction of the many references to clothing in fairy tales.
Organized by associate curator Colleen Hill, Fairy Tale Fashion features more than 80 objects placed within dramatic, fantasy-like settings designed by architect Kim Ackert. Since fairy tales are not often set in a specific time period, Fairy Tale Fashion includes garments and accessories dating from the 18th century to the present. There is a particular emphasis on extraordinary 21st-century fashions by designers such as Thom Browne, Dolce and Gabbana, Tom Ford, Giles, Mary Katrantzou, Marchesa, Alexander McQueen, Rick Owens, Prada, Rodarte, and Walter Van Beirendonck, among others.
Here are some of our favorite pieces from the show!
Snow White inspired designs.
Minadiere Crystal Apple Handbag By Judith Leiber, inspired by Snow White’s Poison Apple.
Designs inspired by Snow White & Rose Red, by the Brothers Grimm. Above: Bear Prince Suit and Rose Red Dress Designed by Thom Browne.
Below, Snow White Evening Gown by Dolce and Gabbana (2012).
Most of the clothes are displayed in the near dark to protect them from the harmful effects of excessive light exposure, and since flash photography is a big no no, it takes a super steady hand and a pretty good camera to get decent shots. I think mine came out OK; your mileage may vary.
Designs inspired by Hans Christian Andersen’s The Snow Queen.
Mirrored Dress By Tom Ford (2014).
Invisible Shoes By Andreia Chaves (2011).
The Wizard of Oz has had a huge influence on fashion as you can see by these eclectic designs, all inspired by the beloved fantasy by L. Frank Baum.
Two different takes on the Ruby Slippers. Above: Crystal Rose Shoes by Noritaka Tatehana (2010)
Little Red Riding Hood is also well-represented!
I didn’t get too many good photos of any of the Alice in Wonderland-inspired outfits, because it was just too dark!
Above and Below: Swan Lake
Below: Cinderella Stepsister’s Dresses By Anne Fogarty and Bluemarine.
In this exhibit, I was introduced to one Grimm’s fairy tale that I previously was completely unfamiliar with: Furrypelts. The story goes that, in an effort to deter her father’s proposal of marriage, a beautiful young princess demands that he provide her with four seemingly impossible garments: dresses that shine like the sun, the moon and the stars, and a fur cloak made from the pelts of every animal in the kingdom. When the king manages to obtain theses clothes, the princess flees into the woods, disguising herself in the cloak and packing her three magnificent gowns.
She later uses the gowns to awe a king in another land.
The princess is wearing her glittering star dress when she finally wins the king’s affection. The silver bead-and-sequined Star gown pictured two photos above, far left, is from the early 1930s.
As you can see, Fairy Tale Fashions is worth making more than one trip to see everything in the exhibit, and the galleries do get very crowded on Saturdays, so maybe try to plan your visit for a weeknight, when the museum is open late. Enjoy!
Fairy Tale Fashion will be on Exhibit Through April 16th, 2016 at the Museum at FIT, Located at Seventh Avenue and 27th Street. Hours are Tuesday through Friday, Noon to 8:00 PM, and Saturday 10:00 AM to 5:00 PM. Admission is Free.