“Masterworks: Unpacking Fashion,” a Class on the Evolution of Fashion Throughout the Centuries

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[MAGAZINE VERSION]

To the sound of “Opening” by Philip Glass, the Anna Wintour Costume Center at the Met is a world apart from the crowds of tourists in New York’s largest museum. Its current show, “Masterworks: Unpacking Fashion” will guide you through the fashion masterpieces representative of each century.

The Costume Institute’s curator in charge, Andrew Bolton, and assistant curator Jessica Regan put together approximately 60 of the Institute’s masterpieces that have been acquired over the last decade and that are representative of each century’s fashion. In between wooden packing crates, as if the ensembles have just been unpacked, the exhibit can be considered a class on Fashion History.

Starting with the Robe à la Française, the 18th century masterworks are defined by its fine textiles and surface embellishments. Stop for a moment to admire the 1747 wedding dress, made of ivory silk faille brocaded with a delicate silver thread.

In contrast, the 19th century masterworks are chosen based on its technological advancements, distinctive silhouettes and the use of complex understructures, like corsets and crinolines. In exhibition, a light blue silk satin ball gown by the father of haute couture, Charles Frederick Worth is juxtaposed with Paul Poiret’s Opera Coat, which represents a total break in couture conventions.

Moving forward, the 20th century’s masterworks are iconic and depict the individual designer’s body of work, while the contemporary masterworks represent new ways of thinking about dress and challenge boundaries of wearability.

“I have a predilection for designers who in a way make us think differently about fashion, who go beyond notions of wearability or functionality,” says Andrew Bolton. The Alexander McQueen jacket inspired by Hitchcock’s film The Birds, Hussein Chalayan’s customizable dress that can be collapsed into an envelope, Yohji Yamamoto’s ensemble made of wood panels, are just a few of the pieces representing Bolton’s design predilections.

The best part of the exhibit, however, is found towards the end, at the Carl and Iris Barrel Apfel Gallery. There, a tribute to Harold Koda, the former Costume Intitute’s curator in charge, shows some of the ensembles donated by designers upon Koda’s retirement in January, 2016. Precious pieces by Karl Lagerfeld, Tom Ford, Iris Van Herpen and Raf Simons, among others are showcased with quotes from its respective designers on how Koda’s work have influenced and inspired them.

“Masterworks: Unpacking Fashion” is definitely worth seeing, but don’t expect a breathtaking show such as “Manus x Machina” or “China: Through the Looking Glass.” This is a much small exhibit, which requires a lot of interest for and previous knowledge of fashion to be fully appreciated.

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8 Things Every Fashion Lover Must Do in NYC

New York, New York…

The city of dreams. Glamour, shopping, cocktails, Chanel bags, Mimosas on Sundays, stilettos everywhere…

Well, Sex and the City might have created that type of idea of the city, but I am sorry to disappoint you. New York is not exactly all that glamour, especially if you are living on a student budget.   

However, fashion lovers, don’t give up! There are ways of experiencing New York’s fashion scene without skipping lunch for a week, I promise. Check some of my favorite fashion-related places in the city:

1.The MET Costume Institute

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Masterworks: Unpacking Fashion exhibit at the MET

The Costume Institute at the Metropolitan Museum of Art (The MET) is one of my favorite places in New York. I go at least twice on each new exhibit! Usually, there are two annual exhibitions. One from May through September and the other from November through February. The one that starts in May, launched by the famous MET Gala (watching the arriving guests on that day is also a must btw), is always the biggest and most important one (watch The First Monday in May to learn more about the whole process and organization behind the exhibition and the gala). The current exhibit is called “Masterworks: Unpacking Fashion,” it features important designs owned by the museum that are representative of each century, from the 18th century to the present.

Obs: the museum has a suggested admission! You can literally pay $1 to see all its treasures.

2. Window Shopping at 5th Avenue

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Holiday windows at Saks Fifth Avenue

Window shopping at 5th Ave is always a lot of fun! It gets especially exciting on this time of the year. Make sure to check the famous holiday windows from Saks Fifth Avenue and Bergdorf Goodman, they are always breathtaking! Tiffany, Cartier and Ralph Lauren usually have great windows as well. Don’t forget to stop by Rockefeller Center for their Christmas tree and to watch people ice skating.

3. Dover Street Market

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Dover Street Market, the multi-brand store owned by Comme des Garçons is probably one of the most interesting stores you will ever visit. Their selection of clothes and the installations and displays created by different artists make visiting DSM an experience. Feel free to go through all the store’s floors, browse through the most avant-garde trends and take pictures, you won’t be bothered! In the end, make sure to stop for a cup of coffee at the bakery on the 1st floor.

4. The Museum at FIT

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“Uniformity” exhibit

Owned by one of the most important fashion colleges in the world, the Museum at FIT has an extensive collection of garments and accessories from the 18th century to the present. Besides being free, the museum’s exhibits are usually quite creative and unique. The one in the picture above, for example, was called “Uniformity.” It presented an analysis on the influence that uniforms have in fashion throughout the times and vice versa. Also, make sure to check for the public events offered by the museum!

5. The Shoe Department at Saks

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The shoe department at Saks Fifth Avenue NY

An entire floor filled with the most exquisite shoes in the planet? The 8th floor at Saks Fifth Avenue Midtown will make your eyes shine. Get delighted by all the newest Manolos, Louboutins and Jimmy Choos and have your Carrie Bradshaw moment. One curiosity? Opened in 2007, Saks’ shoe department has its own zip code! 10022-SHOE if you are wondering…

6. Fashion Week Stalking

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I like to say that New York has five seasons: Spring, Summer, Fall, Winter and Fashion Week. Twice a year (February and September), the most important people in the fashion industry mark their presence in NYC for one of the most important fashion events in the planet. Didn’t get your invitation to the shows? No worries! Mark your presence on the entrance of some of the main locations and you might stumbleupon Anna Wintour, Jessica Alba, Solange Knowles… That is not to mention all the fashion bloggers possible. All you have to do is follow the paparazzi!

7. Brunch at Freds

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Photo from @fredsatbarneys

Ok, this might not really be included in a student budget but… You know, special occasions deserve some investment. On the top of department store Barneys at Madison Avenue, Freds is that restaurant to see and be seen. Make sure to wear your best brunch-outfit, make a reservation and enjoy a beautiful view of the city, delicious food and, of course, pay attention to the restaurant’s interesting and (usually) stylish diners.

8. Shopping around SoHo

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SoHo is one of my favorite areas of the city. Very charming, with lots of interesting buildings that date back to the city’s earliest years, it is one of the main shopping spots in NYC. I like the mixture of high-end and popular stores with some unique local shops. There are also some great places to eat, especially bakeries and coffeeshops. Just walk around and explore!

How to Get Through College and Start a Career in Fashion

Senior year can be a pretty scary one. Who has never questioned: “What am I going to do after college?” or “How do I even start a career?” Well, I certainly have… So what is best than hearing from the experience of someone that has just gone through this process?

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                                                                     [Anne Hathaway in The Devil Wears Prada]

Get to know Edel Singh, LIM’s Fashion Management alumni (class of 2016) and social media manager at Saks Fifth Avenue. Edel is one of those people that are always busy, no matter what. Managing school, her personal blog, photo shoot adventures, internships and now a job makes this Norwegian girl a master in time management and multitasking. With internship experiences at Michael Kors, Elizabeth & James, Cynthia Gale and now a full-time job at Saks, Edel has valuable advice and experience to share with those who can’t wait to graduate and start ‘adulting.’

1. How is it like to be finally out of college? What is the best and worst part of it?

I can’t even begin to explain how amazing it feels to not have homework. There’s so much more free time, yet on the flipside my working days are longer, making lunch plans with people is literally impossible and I miss having Fridays off. I also miss being able to see a bunch of different people in various classes, at work, your team members are who you’re surrounded by all the time, every day.

2. How did you get your job at Saks?

I am working there as a freelancer through 24Seven recruiting agency. I found out about the interview on Thursday night, interviewed on Friday and started working on Tuesday. It was a quick process.

3. How is your experience at Saks so far? How does a normal day of work look like?

I started when we were still building a team for the brand new department, so things were chaotic – put mildly. I worked 14 hours a day more than once during my first week, and days included everything from planning event coverage to actual postings. Now my job has evolved more into reporting, acquiring assets and managing content calendar, posting across the platforms and computing shoots. So any given day, all these things are happening.

4. Now tell us a little bit about you. What made you choose fashion as a career?

I essentially wanted to go into economics or law, but after taking a year off between high school and college, I found fashion as my true calling. I realized that it was an industry that I understand, along with feeling like it’s an industry that’s often misunderstood. By working in fashion, I get to do things I thoroughly enjoy doing, such as photoshoots, and there’s a huge potential for growth both within the industry and across others.

5. What brands/designers inspire you the most? Why?

The Row and Elizabeth and James are brands that have shaped the way I perceive fashion. First of all, Mary Kate and Ashley Olsen are two of my childhood icons, and I highly respect what they have created. The Row channels ultra-high-end luxury and seeing the garments come to life in Greenwich Village, where they are actually produced, was incredible. It made me realize that true luxury is in fact attainable in a world of gold plated Chanel hardware. Elizabeth and James was transitioning from being licensed to having in-house production when I interned there Fall 2015, and it was inspiring to see just how many hands that were on deck for this. Also, it helps that both of these brands create garments that essentially represents my style.

6. What is the piece of clothing/accessory you own that holds the most sentimental value for you? Why?

I have a gold necklace with my parents’ wedding rings. Whenever I have something big coming up, I wear it to remind myself that they’re always right by my side, despite being on the other side of the Atlantic.

7. What advice would you give to a student in his/her freshman year at a Fashion College?

You chose to attend a non-traditional college, so make the most of it! Building a network is the key to success, and you do so by getting engaged at the college as well as interning, working etc. Your future is in your own hands, so make sure you make the most of it! On the other hand, make sure that you’re taking the time to soak up all the amazing things happening in your life. Work hard and be happy. 

Thanks Edel!