Fashion in Colors at the National Design Museum

I whizzed through apartment cleaning today and toddled off to the National Design Museum at E. 91st and Fifth with my old neighbor (not the crazy one) to see the exhibit Fashion in Colors. For $7 plus cab fare, we got quite an education. A free audio phone comes with your ticket purchase, which was delightful and very easy to use, once I got the hang of it. ;) Not only did we get an education in color, but a historical briefing of why a garment was tailored the way it was.

Fashion in Colors: a breakdown

The exhibit, like its website, is organized by color: black, crazy colors, blue, red, yellow and white. Aside from the manikins being a little creepy and in a solid primary colors (I didn't care for the makings of the display, just the clothes themselves), I really enjoyed it. Most memorable was learning where the color "jet black" comes from, which was heavily used in women's mourning attire in the late eighteenth century. Jet is compressed coal, which does give a lovely black. Especially captivating was a French "riding habit" (very tailored jacket and full skirt) made from a wool broadcloth, and any "day dress," especially those from France in the 1880s because of their use of silk taffeta and puckered gathering of the taffeta on the side of the skirt and the bustle itself.

Especially eye-opening for me was anything from Junya Watanabe, who is known for his "inspired use of synthetic fabrics to create inventive, original clothes that nonetheless have strong connections to history and to nature" (as taken from the Fashion in Colors website). Amazing! From a swirly denim dress with tracks of pretty hem, to any of his printed polyester organdy dresses that opened in hundreds of little accordions, much like paper Japanese toys that I'm lacking the words to describe. But as you gaze at any of the dresses, different patterns in the poly organdy accordions take shape, and it's a delightful experience.

Our big take-away from Fashion in Colors was my old neighbor's point, of why the names of designers for anything made before maybe 1920 doesn't seem to have a designer associated with it. If you know, feel free to enlighten us.

PS: the National Design Museum is baby-friendly. They have a convenient elevator right by the coat check that you can wheel right into, and be whisked upstairs. Plus, the museum itself is beautiful. Maybe some of my location manager friends can tell us some history.