New York is a fashion maven's Mecca on so many levels. Park yourself on any sidewalk in the city and you are exposed to a plethora of not only the latest runway ensembles, but also unique and individual takes on the latest trends and looks. For the connaisseur of style, New York's many museums are a special resource for both historical and contemporary fashion and textile arts. Here is my top five list for must sees while in the Big Apple:
1. The Museum at FIT ( 7th Avenue at 27th Street) www.fitnyc.edu
The Fashion Institute of Technology is one of New York's premiere institutions for studying the sartorial arts, but also houses The Museum at FIT- the only museum in the city dedicated solely to exhibiting fashion and textiles. Directed by the divine Dr. Valerie Steele, the museum's mission is to conserve, document, exhibit and interpret both historic and contemporary avant-garde fashion. Check out both Seduction (currently on view until June 16, 2009), and the highly anticipated Isobel Toledo: Fashion from the Inside Out (June 17-September 26, 2009).
2. The Metropolitan Museum of Art (5th Avenue at 82nd Street) www.metmuseum.org
The Met houses The Costume Institute, one of the most prestigious costume collections in the world. Although it is closed to the public, their current exhibition The Model as Muse: Embodying Fashion is on display until August 9, 2009 and explores the complex relationship between fashion, the model, and society's ideals of beauty. While at the museum, it is worthwhile to explore their wonderful collection of seventeenth, eighteenth, and nineteenth century European paintings which often depict historical costume in lush detail.
3. Cooper-Hewitt National Design Museum (5th Avenue at 91st Street) www.cooper-hewitt.org
Part of the Smithsonian Institution, the Cooper-Hewitt holds amazing collections of historic and contemporary decorative arts, including textiles. Although their fashion collection is minimal, the beautiful printed and woven fabrics, laces, embroideries, and pattern books serve as great inspiration for any designer. Their current exhibitions Fashioning Felt and Shahzia Sikander Selects: Works from the Permanent Collection (both until September 7, 2009) are a feast for the eyes for textile lovers.
4. The International Center for Photography (1133 Avenue of the Americas at 43rd Street) www.icp.org
The International Center for Photography is an amazing resource for fashion as clothing is viewed through the eyes of the artist and photographer. Their exhibitions allow the individual to see fashion on the body, in movement, and in a manner that really captures the essence of the era in which it was designed. On view until September 6, 2009 Avedon Fashion: 1944-2000 explores lengthy career of American icon Richard Avedon, while David Seidner: Paris Fashion 1945 shows the exquisite Theatre de la Mode dolls dressed by French couturiers after World War II.
5. American Museum of Natural History (Central Park West at 79th Street) www.amnh.org
Although the AMNH is an anthropological/scientific institution, many of their exhibits on World Cultures contain beautiful examples of ethnographic and folk costume and textiles. From the lush and colorful feather work of South American Indians, to the elaborate and ostentatious dance costumes of African nations, to the luxurious and elegant silks of Japan and China, the AMNH is a fountain of inspiration for the open minded designer.