December 4, 2012 – May 8, 2013
Fashion and Technology examined how, throughout history, fashion has engaged with technological advancement and been altered by it. Time and again, fashions dynamic relationship with technology has both expanded its aesthetic vocabulary and streamlined its means of production.
In recent years, designers have made technology a focal point of their collections, but as early as the mid-18th century, technological advancements were shaping fashion design and fabrication. The development of aniline dyes, the sewing machine, synthetic fibers, and zippers have all sent fashion in new directions. More recently, so have wireless circuitry and the creation of fashion design software. Technologies outside of the fashion industry also contribute to change within it. These include global transportation, the internet, blogging, online retailing, and the increased speed of global communication through digital platforms and social media outlets.
The goal of this exhibition was to analyze the impact of technologies on the nature of fashion and its design, and to question whether these developments push the industry forward or ultimately set it back. Fashion and Technology began with a display of examples from the 18th and 19th centuries, such as a 1780s suit made with a machine-knit textile, and an 1860s dress produced using synthetic dyes. From there, it showcased prominent developments from different time periods, traveling chronologically all the way to the present day.
The exhibition featured objects exclusively from The Museum at FIT’s costume collection alongside a selection of textiles and accessories that highlighted the multifaceted nature of technological developments. The use of video monitors and computers enhanced the exhibition, offering the opportunity to showcase works by small, cutting-edge design teams, such as the Dutch label Freedom of Creation, alongside pieces by fashion icons such as Elsa Schiaparelli, André Courrèges, Issey Miyake, and Nicolas Ghesquire for Balenciaga. Fashion and Technology was organized by Ariele Elia and Emma McClendon.
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