Visit The Museum at FIT

April 2024

As a resident of 555TEN, where attention to detail and luxury is evident in every aspect of the building, you have access to a wealth of cultural experiences. One such experience is the chance to explore the fascinating world of fashion at The Museum at the Fashion Institute of Technology (FIT). Just as 555TEN’s residences showcase the best in modern living, this acclaimed institution offers a unique perspective on the art and history of clothing design through its extensive collection and engaging exhibitions.

The Museum at FIT, founded in 1969 as the Design Laboratory, has grown from its initial role of supporting the educational programs at FIT to become a leading institution in the world of fashion. The museum began presenting exhibitions in the 1970s, initially relying on a collection on long-term loan from the Brooklyn Museum of Art. Over the years, it has acquired its own collection, which includes garments and accessories as well as a vast array of textiles and other fashion-related materials.

The Museum at FIT’s collections are a testament to its dedication to preserving and showcasing the history and artistry of fashion. The permanent collection boasts over 50,000 garments and accessories, spanning from the 18th century to the present day, with a strong emphasis on modern and contemporary women’s fashion. The museum proudly displays works by some of the most influential names in fashion history, such as Balenciaga, Chanel, Dior, Yves Saint Laurent, and avant-garde designers like Rei Kawakubo and Rick Owens. The accessories collection is equally impressive, featuring approximately 15,000 objects, including more than 4,000 pairs of shoes and 3,000 hats. The textile collection is a treasure trove of over 30,000 pieces, ranging from the fifth century to the present, showcasing the works of renowned artists and designers, such as William Morris, Salvador Dali, and Junichi Arai. A photography archive adds another dimension to the museum’s holdings, with works by iconic fashion photographers Louise Dahl-Wolfe and John Rawlings.

The Museum at FIT’s current exhibition, “Statement Sleeves,” curated by Colleen Hill, showcases the creative potential and historical significance of this often-overlooked garment element. The exhibition features nearly 80 pieces from the museum’s permanent collection, many on display for the first time, highlighting the works of renowned designers such as Balenciaga, Tom Ford, Schiaparelli, and Vivienne Westwood. Organized thematically rather than chronologically, the exhibition delves into the various ways in which sleeves have served as a mode of self-expression, reflected fashion trends, and signified status, taste, and personality throughout history. From the introductory section, “Fundamental Forms,” which provides an overview of basic sleeve shapes, to the more elaborate and avant-garde designs showcased in sections like “Puffs and Folds,” “Pleats and Ruffles,” and “Embellishment and Adornment,” visitors are taken on a journey through the evolution and innovation of sleeve design. The exhibition also explores the functionality and adaptability of sleeves in the “Performance and Purpose” section, featuring garments ranging from a restrictive 19th century dolman coat to contemporary designer Lucy Jones’ inclusive designs for wheelchair users and people of diverse abilities.

With its impressive collection and thought-provoking exhibitions, The Museum at FIT is a must-visit destination for residents of 555TEN’s Midtown West rentals who appreciate the art and history of fashion.