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Ballerina: Fashion’s Modern Muse

Feb 11 Through Apr 18 | Tue |


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The Museum at the Fashion Institute of Technology (MFIT) presents Ballerina: Fashion’s Modern Muse, the first large-scale exhibition to illustrate the profound and enduring influences of classical ballet and its most celebrated practitioners—ballerinas—on modern high fashion.

Although ballet is a centuries-old art form that consistently reflected and absorbed prevailing fashions, it was not until the interwar years of the twentieth century that this dance form took its place in the Western pantheon of modern high culture and began to influence many areas of creativity, including fashion. At the same time, the ballerina, the art form’s most celebrated practitioner, blossomed into a revered figure of beauty and glamour, and her signature costume—the corseted tutu—inspired many of fashion’s leading designers for the first time.

Organized by Patricia Mears, deputy director of MFIT, Ballerina: Fashion’s Modern Muse presents objects that reflect this phenomenon—from tutu-inspired haute couture gowns to American ready-to-wear designs based on leotards and other ballet practice clothing—all interspersed with a dazzling selection of costumes. Dating mainly from the 1930s to the early 1980s, the approximately 90 objects were selected from MFIT’s permanent collection and from British institutions such as the Victoria and Albert Museum, the Museum of London, and the Fashion Museum Bath. Many of these objects will be on view in the United States for the first time. Additional lenders include the New York City Ballet, the Dance Theatre of Harlem, and the private holdings of fashion editor and collector Hamish Bowles.

Venue: Museum at FIT

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