Fashion, through two distinct lenses

The latest exhibition at The Museum at FIT explores two distinct approaches to fashion – “Minimalism/Maximalism” continues through Nov. 16.

Less is more – or too much is never enough?

The Museum at FIT in Manhattan explores these two approaches to fashion in its latest exhibition, the thought-provoking “Minimalism/Maximalism.”

The exhibition, which fills the museum’s Fashion & Textile History Gallery through Nov. 16, is a treat, no matter what your perspective.

I went in a devoted “maximalist” – and admit that the exhibition not only satisfied my craving for more-is-more looks but also had me thinking about the more streamlined approach.

As curator Melissa Marra-Alvarez writes in the exhibition essay, reproduced in the show’s brochure, “every fashion movement is a response to what came before it, perpetuating a design cycle that alternates between exuberant and restrained.”

And that’s what you’ll see in this exhibition, presented as one of the museum’s 50thanniversary shows. It’s a balanced exploration between the minimalist and maximalist aesthetics, as expressed through everything from evening gowns to footwear, jackets to bags, prints to textures. Said to be the first museum exhibition devoted specifically to the historical relationship between these two approaches, it takes us on a travel through time as well as style, with garments from the 18thcentury through today.

As Marra-Alvarez told me, “We always know how the fashion pendulum swings from one way to the other” – and here, the reasons why, from social norms to the political climate to the economy, are examined in chronological fashion, exemplified by the journey from circa 1775-1780 silk brocade evening shoes from England to a 2018 Balenciaga “Triple S” sneaker from France.

Throughout, you’ll savor sleek fashions from Calvin Klein to wild designs from Manish Arora, Gucci and Christian Lacroix.

There are glittering flapper dresses and Thierry Mugler evening gowns, a 1979 fashion-forward study in menswear from Larry LeGaspi, a Prada backpack and a playful 2011 striped gown by Raf Simons for Jil Sander.

Throughout, there are leaps from understated to over-the-top approaches, creating a panorama of fashion and an atmosphere ripe for study, as well as enjoyment.

For more, visit

– Mary Shustack

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