It’s an exuberant celebration of fashion in all its colours. This season, the Museum of the City of New York is shining the spotlight on the bold, brash New York fashion scene of the 1960s and early 1970s. In an exhibit titled “Mod New York: Fashion Takes a Trip,” the museum uses the era’s distinctive fashion to mirror the dramatic changes that swept through America during those turbulent years, including the women’s liberation movement, the emergence of the counterculture and the African-American political awakening.
Featuring dresses, jewellery, hats, handbags, shoes, scarves and more, all of which reflect the era’s “anything goes” attitude, the exhibit is divided into four different sections: First Lady Fashion, Youthquake, New Bohemia and New Nonchalance. First Lady Fashion focuses on the legendary Jackie Kennedy, who inspired America and the world to let go of the exaggerated silhouettes of the 1950s and embrace a more liberated definition of femininity.
Then there’s Youthquake, highlighting the youth movement’s love of bright colours and bold patterns, followed by the New Bohemia stylistic shapes, which gleaned their inspiration from the 1967-1969 societal upheavals, when Woodstock and the Sexual Revolution charted a new way of living for an entire generation. Finally, New Nonchalance takes Halston’s designs as a starting point to examine a classic style for the new generation of liberated women.
With more than 70 garments on display, by the likes of Mary Quant, Geoffrey Beene, Pauline Trigère and Yves Saint Laurent, the museum illuminates the communicative powers of fashion throughout the 1960s and early 1970s.
“Mod New York tells two interrelated stories,” says Donald Albrecht, curator of architecture and design, co-curator. “It looks at the radical and transformative world of fashion during the 1960s, and it shows how these new fashions coincided with major changes in American culture, including the rise of a youth-oriented counterculture to the tumult of the Vietnam War, the civil rights movement and a new feminism. New York City was the site where both of these revolutions played out.”
“Mod New York: Fashion Takes a Trip” runs until April 1, 2018, at the Museum of the City of New York.
Featured Image: Sikolo Brathwaite wearing a beaded hairpiece by designer Carolee Prince, ca. 1967. Photograph by Kwame Brathwaite © 1962, Courtesy of the photographer and the Museum of the City of New York.