Turn around and you’ll see a packed International Fashion Week Calendar and an illuminated world map. It’s pretty clear that every hour or so, the sun rises on another hotbed of sartorial creativity. Except for Antarctica, every continent has multiple fashion weeks, fashion bloggers, innovative designers, and fashion followers all their own. Explore through the show’s website, and visit in person before November 14.
The curators tell the story of the rise of traditional couture centers — Paris, New York, Milan, and London – through selected looks and accessories, dating all the way back to the mid-19th century and the House of Worth, when the fashion system and seasonal cycles were institutionalized. It’s interesting to learn that by 1949, the House of Dior was generating 5% of French export profits.
Of course, after WWII, New York was hot on the heels of Paris. Eleanor Lambert kickstarted New York’s Fashion Week in 1943 and Halston and his designer pals won their place in the pantheon of style by vanquishing the Parisians in the 1973 Battle of Versailles.
Milan took over the mantle from Rome after World War II, and London came into its own in the Sixties and Seventies with the debut of mad Mod, rocker chic, and Westwood’s over-the-top subversions.In each section, the curators are careful to add a look from recent runways – Christopher Kane’s layered silk organza masterpiece and Alexander Wang’s shift made from the same fabric as Nike’s “flyknit” sneakers.
But the remainder of the floor space tells the story of other influential capitals of fashion – the 1981 emergence of the Antwerp 6 in Belgium; Tokyo’s wild ride with Miyake, Yamamoto, and Kawakubo; and what H&M did for Scandinavia as a fashion capital.
Next, the show highlights cities and fashion culture in Kiev, Mexico City, Sao Paulo, Lagos, J-burg, Sydney, Seoul and Mumbai. Click through these fashion histories on the FIT exhibition site, and marvel at Lisa Folawiyo’s bead-encrusted dress (Lagos) and Lie Sangbong’s graphic silk ensemble (Seoul).
Take a trip through the gallery on our Flickr site, and watch an interview with curator Ariele Elia below:
And for more on the Battle of Versailles, courtesy of FIT, click here.