Monday, January 6, 2020

POWER MODE: The Force of Fashion: Review By Polly Guerin

"Clothes make the man." The old adage, attributed to Mark Twain, rings true. From ancient times to today we distinguish ourselves in society by the peaceful or protest clothes we wear. From "Power Suits" and "Power Heels" there is a plethora of power symbols to consider.
     The Museum at FIT presents POWER MODE, The Force of Fashion in an engaging FREE exhibition that is on view through May 9, 2020. POWER MEANS DIFFERENT THINGS TO DIFFERENT PEOPLE AT DIFFERENT TIMES. Consider the rules for court dress in the royal courts of the bygone centuries. The opulent fashions of the time made it perfectly clear who had the power and who were the peasants. Today, people and entertainers go to extremes to express powerful statements, but one point is clear, POWER means different things to different people at different times. The role fashion plays in fashion dynamics both historical and today is POWER MODE's most fascinating theme.       
Uniforms and Transformation into Fashion 
     The exhibition is divided into five thematic sections, each devoted to a certain sartorial "power."  The first section considers military uniforms and their transformation into fashion items, which calls to mind the Chanel suit jacket that Coco Chanel appropriated from military uniforms. Image Right: Burberry by Christopher Bailey, fall 1210
Gift of Burberry. Here it is the association with the military that gives the fashion garment its suggested power. The second section looks at status dressing from ermine
capes and luxurious brocade fabrics to contemporary "it" bags. Accessible luxury is a status symbol that anyone can obtain for the exorbitant price. From status dressing the exhibition moves on to consider the history of the suit. In courtrooms and offices, the suit isn't just a symbol of authority, it is also a sign of blending in--submitting to established norms and dress codes. The relaxing of the rules with casual Fridays gave way to the absence of men's ties and an
open neck shirt, yet politicians and senators still adhere to the well-suited-tie rule. Another section
considers the role of resistance dressing. Fashion can also be a vehicle for protest as in the recent work of Kerby Jean-Raymond for his label Pyer Moss.       
Most interesting is the fifth section, which analyzes objects associated with sex and sexuality. Corsets, leather, lingerie, high heeled boots and killer heel shoes are but a few examples. The power of dynamics of these garments are inherently complex. POWER MODE aims to let the visitor understand the complex nature of power in fashion as ways in which fashion can be key to a broader understanding of the power dynamics in culture.
     Ta Ta Darlings!!! POWER MODE, The Force of Fashion is an eye-popping revelation that what we
wear each day is an expression of the power we wish to convey in the workplace and then, too, even to our family
or social events. Some of us go to extremes to express our
outlook on life, while others choose to conform to current cultural influences. No matter the case, there is much to be considered when making fashion choices each day.  Fan mail welcome
Visit Polly's other Blogs visionary men, women determined to succeed, fashion historian and poetry on the links on 

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