“Items: Is Fashion Modern?” at the MOMA

Visited the “Items: Is Fashion Modern” Exhibition at MOMA which is described on the museum website as an exhibit that “explores the present, past—and sometimes the future—of 111 items of clothing and accessories that have had a strong impact on the world in the 20th and 21st centuries—and continue to hold currency today”. Some of these items are of modern vintage like Levi’s 501s, the Breton shirt, and “the Little Black Dress”, and there also ancient and “culturally charged” items like the sari, the kippah, and the keffiyeh.

Refreshing in an institutional exhibit of garments, the curation is “Driven first and foremost by objects, not designers, the exhibition considers the many relationships between fashion and functionality, culture, aesthetics, politics, labor, identity, economy, and technology.” I found it it to be an interesting, well-curated exhibit, and I was glad to finally see the Issey Miyake piece-knit jersey exploration, among the many other thought-provoking fashion objects:

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There is definitely room to grow in this area of institutional exhibition of garments that are not offered as a retrospective of an individual designers oeuvre. Offering instead garments that examine the cultural significances of “dress” as a function of communication and cultural normatives. The inclusion of particular styles of garments that are loaded with larger meanings and histories is the true strength of this exhibition,  the “hoodie” in particular brings up many ancillary, negative associations, and some of them are very painful.


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