Force of Nature examined how the beauty and complexity of the natural world inspired fashion designers for centuries. The exhibition placed more than 95 objects from MFIT’s permanent collection, dating from the 18th century to the present, within a context of period philosophies and scientific literature in order to demonstrate the deep interconnectedness between fashion and nature.
A 1775 robe à l’anglaise with a naturalistic pattern of fruit and flowers, illustrated a movement towards simple dress, influenced by philosopher Jean Jacques Rousseau, who urged a return to nature. A dress by Alexander McQueen from his acclaimed final collection in 2010, presented a meditation upon Charles Darwin’s theory of evolution and concern over climate change.
More than a survey of flora, fauna, and geology as merely decorative, the exhibition revealed the natural world as a nexus of ideas and symbolism in fashion design. Force of Nature aimed to contribute to today’s important, ongoing conversation about society’s relationship with the natural world and humankind’s place within it.