What Happens (to Dresses) after Fashion’s Night Out

Everyone enjoyed the party atmosphere last Thursday during Fashion’s Night Out, with beautiful people, clothes, and accessories on display and tributes to retail and design history. (Check out the Flickr feed of the action on Madison and down Fifth.)

But what happens when the party ends? That question is what inspired two curators from Saratoga Springs to create a micro-show from fashion museum cast-offs — Tattered and Torn (On the Road to Deaccession).

Empire Historic Arts Fund (founded by curators Rodney DeJong and Michael Levinson) gathered together less-than-perfect examples of 19th-century couture and used the abandoned rooms of the Governor’s Galleries on Governors Island to evoke the passage of time for fashion, finery, and fanfare. Rooms that once housed the U.S. Coast Guard as recently as the 1960s felt far older, perhaps due to the dreamlike state evoked by the presence of peeling paint, claustrophobic rooms, and props with which the curators surrounded their proud mannequins.

When you enter, the dresses look glamorous, but upon closer inspection, you can see that the silk has peeled away, seams have come apart, and the total elegance that must have accompanied these dresses’ debuts has passed into history. Take a look.

Considering the $250 budget for this installation, the curators have done a fine job of paying tribute to the history of fashion, creating a memorable experience on the Island, and letting us meditate on the still-beautiful details of fabric and design up close in a quiet place.

(The show is tucked away the far east side of the Island, beyond the Parade Ground, in Building 315 facing the Brooklyn waterfront. It’s the last building on your way toward Yankee Pier.)

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