Crystal Bridges explores the diverse origins and future of American fashion in Fashioning America: Grit to Glamor

Ji Won Choi Red Jogakbo Dress, Antecedence Collection, Spring/Summer 2021 (Photo courtesy of Crystal Bridges Museum of American Art)

Bentonville, Arkansas – The Crystal Bridges Museum of American Art will take a fresh look at two centuries of innovative and quintessentially American fashion this fall in the museum’s first exhibition dedicated to fashion – Fashioning America: Grit to Glamour. Featuring over 100 iconic American designers and labels, the exhibition explores and celebrates the nation’s fashion heritage and inventive spirit while highlighting the untold stories of under-recognized and under-represented designers, important contemporary movements shaping the industry and the resonance of American fashion in global trends and visual culture. Fashioning America will be on view from September 10, 2022 through January 30, 2023.

Through seven themed sections showcasing the breadth of American fashion as the amalgamation of all things culture – from denim jeans to swimwear, sneakers to cowboy boots, zoot suits to hobbies, from sportswear to underwear and from Hollywood glamor to street style – the exhibition focuses on the work of black and Native American designers and features a geographic representation of fashion designers and stories from across the country .

“I always view Crystal Bridges as an inclusive storytelling platform, and we are thrilled to present our first fashion exhibition boldly focused on the diverse origins and untold stories of American fashion,” said Olivia Walton, Board Chair. administration of the museum. “Fashion is truly the art of our daily lives, a medium of expression and culture, a source of creativity and vision. We are thrilled to bring these voices and stories to the heart of America.

The exhibition will feature pieces on loan from Vogue magazine’s global editor, Hamish Bowles, as well as other private collections and household names such as Ralph Lauren, Nike, Vera Wang and Levi-Strauss, as well as styles from statement by designers Virgil Abloh, Caroline Herrera, Patricia Michaels, Virgil Ortiz, Anna Sui and Isabel Toledo. The first-ever interactive digital garment to feature in a museum exhibit will debut in Fashioning America thanks to a collaboration with bionic and futuristic pop artist Viktoria Modesta.

In addition to featuring fashion legends, Fashioning America will lift the veil on little-known fashion heroes such as Ann Lowe, who designed Jackie Kennedy’s wedding dress, and Bill Whitten, who shaped the Michael Jackson’s iconic glove. The exhibit will also tell stories of female designers and female-led businesses who have found great success in the male-dominated fashion industry, including streetwear designer Olivia Anthony, corset inventor Emmeline Philbrook , entrepreneur Hattie Carnegie and famed underwear designer and industrialist Olga Erteszek, whose eponymous category-dominant brand started with $10 and a sewing machine.

Drawings by Halston, Rudi Gernreich, Ikire Jones and Christian Siriano, among others,
represent queer culture, non-binary gender inclusivity, body positivity and social activism, while demonstrations of sustainable fashion are layered by zero waste pioneers Shelly Xu and Natalie “Alabama” Chanin.

“American fashion reflects the complexity of America at large, weaving together stories of
innovation, immigration, independence, self-invention and creativity. The vast history of American fashion encompasses designers from all walks of life – from rural to urban, regional to global – who embody past and present history and represent issues related to inclusion and exclusion” , said the curator of the exhibition, Michelle. Tolini Finamore. “I am honored and thrilled to have the opportunity to champion work that has too often been overlooked by convention and hope the exhibit captures the role fashion plays in reflecting the American spirit in the rest of the world. world.”

Art features prominently in Fashioning America via looks such as a dress embellished with Warhol prints by Halston and a Roy Lichtenstein No Thank You dress by Lisa Perry, while works from the Crystal Bridges collection punctuate the galleries of ‘exposure. Jordan Casteel’s bold 2018 painting Ourlando depicts a modern sartorialist gazing at viewers from the colorful surroundings of a men’s fashion store. Howard Norton Cook’s 1930 engraving of New England City shows an early 20th century industrial center – recalling the legacy of the roots of the American fashion industry through depictions of riverside factories and of smoking chimneys in grainy black and white.

A lively program will run during the exhibition and will include an opening talk on September 9 with Finamore, Modesta and Ortiz, artistic creations, gallery activities, demonstrations and workshops for all ages to deepen the exploration of the exhibition and its themes. On November 12, in collaboration with INTERFORM, a non-profit organization based in Northwest Arkansas that supports fashion designers and entrepreneurs, the museum will host a full day of designer roundtables and presentations from collections. Additional programming and details will be shared on the museum’s website.

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