Fashion fans, mark your cultural calendars! Here, we present the greatest sartorially-led museum shows in New York City, from roving designer retrospectives to themed extravaganzas. Check out these NYC fashion exhibitions for a combined cultural and fashion hit.

NYC fashion exhibitions

Exhibition: ‘In America: A Lexicon of American Fashion’
Location: The Met
Dates: Part One, 18 September 2021 – 5 September 2022

 A ‘Lexicon of American Fashion’ installation view, among current NYC fashion exhibitions

Installation view, Belonging (left), Nostalgia (right)Images: © The Metropolitan Museum of Art

The first of a two-part, year-long extravaganza, ‘In America: A Lexicon of American Fashion’ features a display of 100 garments dating from 1940 to the present day, set in an installation design inspired by a patchwork quilt. Referencing an 1856 quilt in the museum’s American Wing created by Adeline Harris Sears, featuring white silk diamond-shaped squares signed by some of the most famous Americans of the period, the exhibition is composed of white scrimmed cases – a three-dimensional patchwork quilt – each containing a specimen of American fashion history.

Organised into 12 sections that seek to define the emotional qualities in American fashion, such as Nostalgia, Belonging, Joy and Strength, each exhibit is accompanied by a headpiece designed by Stephen Jones featuring a word summing up a corresponding sentiment, thus forming a comprehensive visual dictionary. Most notably, the showcase features a wide range of designers, both past and present, of different ages, backgrounds, cultures and genders, that captures just how colourful American culture is. Writer: Pei Ru-Keh

Exhibition: ‘Christian Dior: Designer of Dreams’
Location: Brooklyn Museum
Dates: 10 September 2021 – 20 February 2022

Christian Dior Designer of Dreams exhibition installation view, among current NYC fashion exhibitions

‘Christian Dior: Designer of Dreams’, installation view. Photography: Paul Vu

When Christian Dior arrived in America for the first time in 1947, after debuting his controversial ‘New Look’, his tour of the country was met with some resistance by those in shock at his proposed silhouette. Now the entire history of the Parisian label has come to New York’s Brooklyn Museum, with the American iteration of Christian Dior: Designer of Dreams’, a blockbuster show that was ran at the Musée des Arts Décoratifs in Paris, before moving onto the V&A in London.

The show dives into the design history and language not just of Monsieur Dior, but of the creative directors that succeeded him: Yves Saint Laurent, Marc Bohan, Gianfranco Ferré, John Galliano, Raf Simons, and Maria Grazia Chiuri. Curated by Florence Müller, Avenir Foundation curator of textile art and fashion at Denver Art Museum, in collaboration with Matthew Yokobosky, senior curator of fashion and material culture at Brooklyn Museum, the exhibition also places focus on the maison’s relationship with America, and sees the location’s central atrium of the Beaux-Arts Court redesigned as an enchanted garden.

Exhibition: ‘Ravishing: The Rose in Fashion’
Location: Museum at the Fashion Institute of Technology
Dates: 6 August – 28 November 2021

A blooming lovely way to mark the reopening of the Fashion Institute of Technology, which has been shuttered since the Covid-19 pandemic began? A fashion exhibition dedicated to the diverse symbolism of the rose in fashion. It’s a flower denoting a host of emotions and spiritual connotations, including suffering, purity, and transience, that is referred to frequently by designers, ranging from Christian Dior to Schiaparelli, Halston to Noir Kei Ninomiya. 

Ravishing: The Rose in Fashion’, features 130 items, including hand-woven and embroidered 18th-century silks, a large collection of rose-swathed rare hats, and garments by Comme des Garçons, Charles James and Gucci, and explores the symbolism of roses in various colours, such as red, pink and black. The introduction to the show includes more than 75 original photographic portraits of people wearing roses, both real and artificial, dating from the 1850s to the 1920s, when the flower was used as a regular, transformative prop. 

Exhibition: ‘Sarah Moon: At the still point’
Location: Fotografiska New York
Dates: 14 October 2021 – 6 Feb 2022

+J Uniqlo collection black anorak

Fashion 01, Issey Miyake, 1995 © Sarah Moon

Octogenarian French photographer and filmmaker Sarah Moon shows 30 years of work at Fotografiska New York – spanning fashion and fantasy, mystery and the macabre. Comprising photographs as well as films and books produced over the last 30 years, the exhibition showcases both Moon’s literary approach to working and her ability create dreamlike visuals, regardless of their destination and medium.‘Sarah Moon creates her own timeless, unique visual language,’ says Amanda Hajjar, director of exhibitions at Fotografiska New York. ‘She expands outside straight fashion photography to something more conceptual, but we’re still able to recognise it as fashion focused. This unexpectedness keeps us interested and surprised.’ Writer: Pei-Ru Keh. §