Exhibition | Pockets to Purses

Posted in exhibitions by Editor on February 12, 2018

Next month at FIT:

Pockets to Purses: Fashion + Function
The Museum at the Fashion Institute of Technology, New York, 6–31 March 2018

Organized by Graduate Students in FIT’s Fashion and Textile Studies Program

The Fashion Institute of Technology’s School of Graduate Studies and The Museum at FIT present Pockets to Purses: Fashion + Function. Organized by graduate students in the Fashion and Textile Studies program, the exhibition explores pockets and purses as both fashionable and functional objects by tracing both their history and evolution to accommodate the demands of modern life. Displaying objects from the collection of The Museum at FIT, the exhibition analyzes the interplay between pockets and purses in both men’s and women’s wardrobes from the 18th century to the present. In addition to garments and accessories, the exhibition features photographs, advertisements, and film clips that demonstrate how pockets and purses have been utilized throughout history and the ways that lifestyle changes have affected their design and use.

Reticule of a Man’s Waistcoat, embroidered silk, ca. 1800, France (NY: The Museum at FIT, gift of Thomas Oechsler. 93.132.2).

Pockets to Purses: Fashion + Function begins with 18th-century examples of men’s and women’s pockets. Men’s pockets were built into jackets or waistcoats so that men could carry a variety of objects, including books. Problematically, the lines of a man’s tailored ensemble were often disrupted by bulky items. Alternatively, women’s pockets began as separate accessories that were tied to the body and worn underneath a skirt. These pockets were completely hidden, allowing a woman to carry items while maintaining privacy.

Changing fashions and evolving roles in society led to women carrying their possessions in handheld bags. A reticule—a small handbag typically made with a drawstring closure—displayed in the exhibition illustrates the evolution of pockets into handheld purses. The shape, ornamentation, and pocket flap of this example from circa 1800 indicate that it was fabricated from an 18th-century man’s waistcoat, an example of which can be seen in the rendering on a fashion plate dating from 1778 to 1787. A blue bodice from circa 1878 that features a small watch pocket on the left hip reveals a fashionable approach to practical design. The pocket has embroidered decoration, but the easily accessible location and convenient shape of the pocket are function driven.

A needlepoint bag dating from 1920–30 contains three small cases that demonstrate the prevalence for ensemble dressing that arose during the 1920s. The coordinating containers for cigarettes and face powder testify to a growing acceptance of women smoking and wearing makeup in public. The tension between fashion and function continued into the 20th century. The exhibition includes an ad for Elsa Schiaparelli’s ‘Cash and Carry’ suits, which featured large pockets on the hips for carrying supplies, demonstrating the desire for functionality that prevailed at the outbreak of World War II. After the war, designers deemphasized functionality and began to feature pockets primarily as design elements. A Molyneux dress from 1948 has eight strategically placed pockets on the hips that make the waist appear smaller, a silhouette that dominated postwar fashion.

American designers such as Claire McCardell and Bonnie Cashin incorporated pockets that were as playful as they were practical. A bright green raincoat by Cashin circa 1965 features a pocket designed to look like a shoulder bag—making her raincoat a visual fusion of fashion and function. Made from leather, canvas, and the twist-lock closures that were typical of Cashin’s work, the coat’s large, practical pocket allowed the wearer to go hands-free while keeping her possessions close.

Novelty bags demonstrate the whimsy of fashion, though they also convey wealth and status. A 1950s Lederer purse shaped like a clock has a built-in lipstick compartment and utilizes traditional elegant materials in a novel design. Additionally, Judith Leiber’s 1994 Swarovski crystal-encrusted minaudière in the shape of a tomato was designed to be a display of glamour and imagination. Both examples present the handbag as an objet d’art and show how designers sometimes perform more as artists, focusing on form rather than functionality.

Other iterations of the status bag, specifically those of the late 20th century, are also on display. An Hermès “Kelly” bag from 2000 demonstrates the longevity of the bag’s design, which set standards for the luxury market when it was introduced as a saddle bag in 1892. Alternatively, a Louis Vuitton purse from 2003 shows a trendier kind of status bag. Its colorful take on the traditional Vuitton ‘Speedy’ bag played into passing fashion trends during the early 2000s.

Various menswear items are also included, such as a 1990 sport coat by Jean Paul Gaultier. With layers of cargo pockets, velcro flaps, and heavy-duty zippers, this jacket is a take on the functional pockets in conventional men’s sportswear. Similarly, a bowler hat designed by Rod Keenan in 2006 subverts the traditional bowler by including, at the crown, a pocket made to hold a condom.

The final section of the exhibition focuses on pockets that allude to historical embellishments. Included are a Bill Blass knit dress from fall 1986 and a man’s Versace suit from 1992. Shown alongside a reproduction of an 18th-century man’s embroidered coat, these objects are reminders of the pocket’s fashionable use throughout history.

Exhibition | Pink

Posted in exhibitions by Editor on February 12, 2018

This fall at FIT:

Pink: The History of a Punk, Pretty, Powerful Color
The Museum at the Fashion Institute of Technology, New York, 7 September 2018 — 5 January 2019

Curated by Valerie Steele

Pink is popularly associated with little girls, ballerinas, Barbie dolls, and all things feminine. Yet the symbolism and significance of pink have varied greatly across time and space. The stereotype of pink-for-girls versus blue-for-boys may be ubiquitous today, but it only gained traction in the mid-twentieth century. In the eighteenth century, when Madame de Pompadour helped make pink fashionable at the French court, it was perfectly appropriate for a man to wear a pink suit, just as a woman might wear a pink dress. In cultures such as India, men never stopped wearing pink.

Yet anyone studying pink comes up against “the color’s inherent ambivalence.” One of “the most divisive of colors,” pink provokes strong feelings of both “attraction and repulsion.” “Please sisters, back away from the pink,” wrote one journalist, responding to the pink pussy hats worn at the Women’s March. Some people think pink is pretty, sweet, and romantic, while others associate it with childish frivolity or flamboyant vulgarity. In recent years, however, pink increasingly has been interpreted as cool, androgynous, and political. “Why would anyone pick blue over pink?” mused the rapper Kanye West. “Pink is obviously a better color.” In the words of i-D magazine, pink is “punk, pretty, and powerful.”

Curated by Dr. Valerie Steele, director of The Museum at FIT, Pink: The History of a Punk, Pretty, Powerful Color will explore the changing significance of the color pink over the past three centuries.

New Book | Versailles et l’Europe

Posted in books by Editor on February 12, 2018

All essays are available for download as PDF files from ArtHistoricum.net:

Thomas Gaehtgens, Markus Castor, Frédéric Bussmann, and Christophe Henry, eds., Versailles et l’Europe: L’appartement monarchique et princier, architecture, décor, cérémonial (Paris: Centre allemand d’histoire de l’art 2018), 896 pages, ISBN: 9782955931509.

Les 31 contributions de cet ouvrage examinent en premier lieu la signification et la fonction des appartements royaux de Louis XIV en France, puis leur réception dans les cours du Saint Empire romain germanique, avant de s’intéresser aux résidences des Pays-Bas, de l’Angleterre, de la Suède, de la Pologne et de l’Espagne au cours des XVIIe et XVIIIe siècles.

Der vorliegende Band untersucht den Einfluss eines der brillantesten Repräsentationsleistungen der Frühen Neuzeit auf die europäischen Höfe des 17. und 18. Jahrhunderts. Das Versailler Schloss, ein „Showroom“, der die französischen Luxusgüter über die Grenzen hinaus bekannt und zum begehrten Gut machte, zog die Blicke aller Regenten der Zeit auf sich. Doch wenngleich von Künstlern und Kunsthandwerkern, die sich an den europäischen Höfen niederließen, zahlreiche Formen und Ideen übernommen wurden, darf die Beharrlichkeit der lokalen Traditionen dennoch nicht unterschätzt werden.

Beginnend mit einer Analyse des Versailler Appartements nach Form und Funktion wird das in Frankreich entwickelte Modell in seiner Bedeutung für die Konzepte des Appartements der europäischen Höfe betrachtet. Die Beiträge analysieren das Zusammenspiel von Architektur, Dekor und Zeremoniell und die besondere Bedeutung des Appartements für die höfische Repräsentation. Die räumliche Disposition tritt als komplexes Verweissystem hervor, das die Inszenierung der Macht und die Zugänglichkeit des Regenten bestimmte. Die Logik der Ausstattungssysteme erschließt sich nur in interdisziplinärer Betrachtung, die auch die sozialen und politisch—historischen Bedingungen berücksichtigt. Bereits vorhandene Traditionen der europäischen Häuser werden in diesem Prozess zwischen Übernahmen und Transformationen neu konfiguriert.

Der erste Teil widmet sich dem in Frankreich entwickelten Modell des Appartements und versucht die komplexe Entwicklung in Versailles bis 1701 nachzuvollziehen, in der die Chambre de Parade zum Herzstück des Schlosses wurde. Im zweiten Teil beleuchten die Fallstudien zu Residenzen der deutschsprachigen Länder den komplexen Austausch und die Vielfalt der heterogenen Lösungen. Mit Beiträgen zu einigen wesentlichen europäischen Höfen in England, Holland, Schweden, Polen, Spanien und Italien schließt die Studie ab.

Thomas W. Gaehtgens (Director, Getty Research Institute, LA); Markus A. Castor (Directeur de Recherche, DFK-Paris); Freddric Bussmann (Kurator, Museum der bildenden Künste Leipzig); Christophe Henry (Professeur Grandes Ecoles, Histoire et theorie des arts).


Thomas Kirchner, Préface
Thomas Gaehtgens, Markus Castor, Frédéric Bussmann, Appartement, décor et cérémonial: une introduction

Versailles et la France
• Raphaël Masson, Thierry Sarmant, COMITAS ET MAGNIFICENTIA. Essai sur l’appartement royal en France
• Jean-Pierre Samoyault, L’appartement du roi à Fontainebleau sous Louis XIV (1643–1715)
• Stéphane Castelluccio, L’appartement du roi à Versailles, 1701 : le pouvoir en représentation
• Max Tillmann, « Une étiquette prétentieuse » La cour princière de l’électeur Max-Emmanuel de Bavière au château de Compiègne (1708–1715)
• Jörg Garms, Les appartements du duc Léopold à Lunéville

Les cours princières du Saint-Empire entre Habsbourg et Bourbon
• Katharina Krause, Des exemples à suivre absolument ? Distribution française et commodité allemande dans le traité et la pratique architecturale au tournant du xviiie siècle
• Cordula Bischoff, Le Frauenzimmer-Ceremoniel (cérémonial des femmes) et ses conséquences sur la distribution des appartements princiers des dames vers 1700
• Rainer Valenta, L’appartement impérial à l’époque de Charles VI. Proposition de reconstitution
• Ulrike Seeger, L’appartement électoral entre Vienne et Versailles. L’appartement de parade de la résidence princière de Rastatt
• Annegret Kotzurek, Les appartements ducaux du corps de logis baroque du château de Ludwigsbourg
• Kathrin Ellwardt, Les appartements du château de Mannheim
• Eva-Bettina Krems, « Le sujet est de ceux qui […] s’accompagnent du plus grand nombre de pointillés. » – De la diversité des espaces d’audience dans les châteaux français et allemands autour de 1700
• Henriette Graf, La fonction des appartements de l’électeur Charles-Albert de Bavière dans le cérémonial de cour vers 1740
• Virginie Spenlé, Galeries de peintures et appartements princiers dans le Saint-Empire romain germanique
• Marc Jumpers, L’appartement d’apparat de la résidence de Bonn : une tentative de reconstitution
• Martin Miersch, Le rôle des diplomates français dans la formation du « bon goût » chez le prince électeur de Cologne Clément-Auguste
• Frédéric Bussmann, Le château de Nordkirchen, le « Versailles de Westphalie » ? Architecture, distribution et décor des appartements de la résidence du prince évêque de Münster et de la famille Plettenberg
• Verena Friedrich, La décoration française à la résidence de Wurtzbourg. Les projets du premier appartement de l’évêque de Wurtzbourg
• Claudia Schnitzer, « …afin d’en laisser à la postérité un souvenir ineffaçable » Les pièces de parade du château de Dresde dans la relation de la fête organisée à l’occasion du mariage de 1719
• Katja Heitmann, Distribution et ornementation. Le château de Heidecksburg à Rudolstadt et l’influence de l’architecture française sur les châteaux princiers allemands
• Martin Pozsgai, L’appartement de parade dans les châteaux des princes protestants du Saint-Empire romain germanique
• Guido Hinterkeuser, Les pièces d’habitation et les salles d’apparat de Sophie-Charlotte et Frédéric Ier au château de Charlottenburg : finalité, aménagement et usage
• Thomas W. Gaehtgens, Frédéric Ier, Frédéric -Guillaume Ier et Frédéric II. Trois conceptions de la représentation et de l’habitat princier à la cour de Prusse
• Peter O. Krückmann, Le Vieux Château de l’Ermitage à Bayreuth. L’iconographie du pouvoir au temps de l’absolutisme et des Lumières

Les autres grandes cours européennes, un tour d’horizon
• Johan de Haan, L’appartement princier au palais du Stadhouder à Leeuwarden 1650–1710
• Konrad Ottenheym, Les appartements princiers des résidences du prince d’Orange dans la Hollande du xviie siècle
• Michael Schaich, La chambre de parade sous la monarchie anglaise autour de 1700
• Linda Hinners, Martin Olin, Les appartements royaux du château de Stockholm
• Anna Olenska, L’Union de Pologne-Lituanie a-t-elle eu son « Versailles » ? Du Wilanów de Jean III Sobieski au Bialystok du prétendant au titre de Jean IV Branicki
• Elisabeth Wünsche- Werdehausen, Entre Bourbon et Habsbourg ? Les grands appartements du palais royal de Turin
• Markus A. Castor, Anne Kurr, Philippe V de Bourbon à Madrid -Architecture, décor et cérémonial entre changement programmatique et tradition

Plans des châteaux
Glossaire franco-allemand
Index des noms propres
Index topographique
Crédits photographiques

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