Follow the Fashion

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Manus x Machina at the Met

It’s the year of the woman, or so they tell me. And to prove it, fashion has been elevated to an art at no less an arbiter of taste than The Metropolitan Museum of Art (The Met). Trolling its recent haute couture exhibition, I remembered in a hot flash why I gave up fashion as a career choice: it was the endless tiny stitches and the needle-pricked fingers I suffered in the sophomore tailoring class at Syracuse University. Fashion majors can now take heart that the sewing, embroidery, lace tating and pliseing, long marginalized as women’s work, has a new champion… The Met. In its “far from shabby-chic” exhibition, Manus x Machina, The Met salutes these made-by-hand practices, while also praising the technology that has expanded a fashion designer’s toolbox. More than 170 ensembles dating from early 20th century to the present are on display. But fashion is more than art. “It tells the story of who we are or who we want to be,” says Frances Corner in the introduction of her book Why Fashion Matters. This may account for the fact that a new summer fashion program in the ArtsWestchester building (with New England Fashion and Design Association) is rapidly filling up with teens.

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Manus x Machina at the Met

And fashion is also about who we were, at a new exhibition of 30 decades-old ensembles at Lyndhurst. It traces the changing roles of women over a century-and-a-half during which styles went from corseted to comfy. What we wear is also a form of self-expression. It forms our identity, sexuality and aspirations as told in the SHE exhibition at ArtsWestchester, open through June 25. But ladies, stay tuned for the back story. I could kick myself for not understanding back then that fashion is also a multi-billion dollar industry (largely dominated by men, of course). Had I known that, I would have headed straight for my MBA. As they say in real life: follow the money.

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