Fashion of the 1930s at the FIT Museum

Curator G. Bruce Boyer says that modern fashion began in the 1930s. His new exhibit, at the FIT Museum in New York, is “Elegance in an Age of Crisis: Fashions of the 1930s.” Director Ben Harrison talked with Boyer at the posh opening party for the exhibit, and the curator drew the line between the Victorian and Edwardian fashions that still prevailed through the 1920s, and the strikingly contemporary styles of just a decade later.

The exhibit features vintage examples, ranging from evening clothes to trench coats to Fred Astaire’s shoes. In the early 30s, America was tightening its belt, but contemporary style was just getting started.

The exhibition runs through April 19th at the Fashion Institute of Technology in New York.

Ivy Style at the F.I.T. Museum

I’m headed out of New York this morning, having taped a few episodes of Judge John Hodgman, enjoyed a San Francisco Giants World Series victory, ordered a few shirts from my friend Carl, and attended WFMU’s Radiovision conference. I didn’t have a lot of free time on this trip - blame the baby - but I did make time to visit the Fashion Institute of Technology Museum and their lovely exhibit Ivy Style.

Among the sights:

  • Some stunning tartan sportcoats by Jeffrey Banks, the former protege of Ralph Lauren, author of several menswear books, and sole African-American contributor to the exhibition.
  • Some delightful Berk slippers, featuring a pair in crescent moon and star theme which match some I bought for my wife recently.
  • Ralph Lauren outfits pieced together from collections 30 years apart, but sharing a near-perfect aesthetic symmetry.
  • A Thom Browne Ivy-inspired suit featuring a spiked crotch.
  • Some genuinely gorgeous bleeding madras in shorts, coats, and everything else.
  • Some amazing information about a Princeton tradition, still extant, called the Beer Suit. Derived from workwear, it was clothing made to be worn by seniors while drinking, to avoid ruining the good stuff. They look a bit like a painter’s outfit, with graduation years and slogans stenciled on. After graduation, the suit was worn to reunions until the 25th reunion, when one could finally wear a class jacket - usually (by the looks of it) a crested blazer.

If you’re in New York, don’t miss the exhibition, which is free. And don’t forget the symposium, which is in just a few weeks.