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Elegance in an Age of Crisis: FIT examines fashion of the 1930s

In the context of 20th century fashion, 1930s-era apparel is probably amongst the most sought-after, collected, and coveted today. The rise of resortwear, the advent of bias-cut techniques and an overall sense of elegant fluidity distinguished the decade from its predecessors and laid the groundwork for much of what would later follow, establishing, among other breakthroughs, a blueprint for what we have come to know as Red Carpet Fashion.  The Museum at FIT’s latest exhibition, “Elegance in an Age of Crisis: Fashion of the 1930s” explores these innovations, both technical and aesthetic, that defined both women’s and menswear throughout the decade.  Some 80 ensembles and 30 accessories are divided into three thematic sections covering active and resortwear, the parallels between women’s haute couture and men’s bespoke tailoring, and formalwear of the era by the likes of Madeleine Vionnet, Balenciaga, Claire McCardell and more as well as leading tailoring houses of the day.

Curated by the museum’s Deputy Director Patricia Mears and leading menswear historian and writer G. Bruce Boyer, the exhibit is the first of its kind to concurrently examine and celebrate ’30s-era apparel for both men and women.  A must-see on any vintage enthusiast’s Spring 2014 exhibition list, to be certain.

Open 7 February – 19 April 2014, Tuesday – Saturday, free admission.  7th Ave @ 27th Street. Below, a selection of items on display.


L to R: Munchen swim suit, Germany, circa 1930; Licensed copy of an Augustabernard gown, USA, gift of Mrs. Jessie S. Hills. Images © Museum at FIT.


Green suede & painted metallic leather pumps, Perugia, circa 1930, France. Image © The Museum at FIT.


L to R: Green velvet & satin smoking jacket, Gardner & Wooley Ltd, 1936, London; blue wool herringbone twill evening jacket, 1937, Austria, gift of Francis Knize. Images © The Museum at FIT.

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