Items: Is Fashion Modern? explores the present, past—and sometimes the future—of 111 items of clothing and accessories that have had a strong impact on the world in the 20th and 21st centuries—and continue to hold currency today. Among them are pieces as well-known and transformative as the Levi’s 501s, the Breton shirt, and the Little Black Dress, and as ancient and culturally charged as the sari, the pearl necklace, the kippah, and the keffiyeh. Items will also invite some designers, engineers, and manufacturers to respond to some of these indispensable items with pioneering materials, approaches, and techniques—extending this conversation into the near and distant futures, and connecting the history of these garments with their present recombination and use. Driven first and foremost by objects, not designers, the exhibition considers the many relationships between fashion and functionality, culture, aesthetics, politics, labor, identity, economy, and technology.
From left: Man Ray. Coco Chanel. 1935. Man Ray Museum Ludwig Cologne, Photography Collections (Collection Gruber). © Man Ray Trust/Artists Rights Society (ARS), NY/ADAGP, Paris 2016; threeASFOUR in collaboration with Stratasys and Travis Fitch. 3-D Printed Harmonograph Dress by. Produced using Stratasys’ unique multicolor, multi-material 3-D printing technology. Photo: Matt Carasella; Nervous System (est. 2007), Jessica Rosenkrantz (American, b. 1983), Jesse Louis-Rosenberg (American, b. 1986). Kinematics Dress. 2014. Laser-sintered nylon. The Museum of Modern Art, New York. Committee on Architecture and Design Funds. Image courtesy of Steve Marsel; Rick Owens Spring Summer 2016 look #26. Image courtesy of Valerio Mezzanotti/OWENSCORP