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Museum at FIT show explores body politics and proportions

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today Dec 8, 2017
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The Museum at FIT opened this week the Body: Fashion and Physique exhibit, exploring many culture’s impact on body shapes and proportions.


Dresses by Chromat and Christian Siriano that are on view at the Body: Fashion and Physique exhibit at The Museum at FIT. - The Museum at FIT


The five-month-long exhibit examines the relationship between fashion and body politics, and explores the history of the “ideal” fashion body. The exhibit begins in the eighteenth century, when corsets, or stays, were reserved for the elite, and continues through the nineteenth century when these stays were made available for all women and skirt diameters were expanded to create an illusion of a narrow waist or a fuller rear.
 
Dr. Valerie Steele, director of The Museum at FIT, describes the shift in fashion from the nineteenth century to the twentieth century as a change “from an opulent Venus to a slender, athletic Diana,” best represented by looser and shorter garments made with elastic and rubber girdles.

Ensembles by Christian Dior, Thierry Mugler, and Jean Paul Gaultier represent the evolution of twentieth century fashion, specifically how silhouettes became increasingly thin, while the twenty-first century looks by Christian Siriano and Chromat show how the designers of today celebrate body diversity and models of all types.
 
The Body: Fashion and Physique is a timely exhibit when considering the fashion industry’s new acceptance of different body types. Brands like Lane Bryant, Eloquii and Gwynnie Bee showed that not all women are being catered to when they shop for clothes. The overwhelming response led to companies like Nike and Nordstrom launching plus-size collections or expanding its sizing range. Activewear line Fabletics, Oak, LC Lauren Conrad, and The Eva Mendes Collection also expanded their size ranges to include plus sizes.
 
The Body: Fashion and Physique will remain open through May 5, 2018.

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