City Pulse

By Katie Calautti

There are ingredient lists best left to the imagination. Sausage, for example. Delicious, yet…mysterious. The way it should be.

Little black dresses, on the other hand, are delectable in their own right – but understanding their construction wouldn’t exactly hinder a gal from throwing one on with a pair of her sexiest pumps.

Yours Truly cannot presume to be a Fashionista Extraordinaire. I certainly consider myself a shopper with a good eye (and one who will not commit the sin of wearing white after Labor Day or pairing brown with black), but matters of the assembly or inspiration-savvy are truly beyond comprehension for online-browsing, department-store-sale-snagging moi.

As I learned, after viewing American Beauty: Aesthetics and Innovation in Fashion at The Museum at FIT, the very clothesstuffs that we peruse in the Barney’s or Bloomie’s or Bergdorf’s showroom boast a rich heritage. That “Oh yeah” moment when you slip on the perfect frock is brought to you by a long, learned history of passionate, talented, innovate designers.

The exhibit is the first of its kind to explore the philosophy of beauty when allied with the craft of dressmaking. The 90 looks on display explore the various themes of embellishment, engineering, embroidery, tailoring, and much more. The presentation is sleek and edited and deliberate – one is greeted at the foot of the stairs by a narrated documentary, then ushered into the main room, which encompasses a show-stopping array of garments clustered around specific themes.

Beloved designers Halston, Narciso Rodriguez, Jean Yu, Rodarte, Ralph Rucci and many more make an unforgettable appearance in this beautiful, educational display.

Every astute follower of fashion should understand the roots of their adoration – see what it’s all about at the Museum at FIT – admission is free. Visit for more information.

What: American Beauty: Aesthetics and Innovation in Fashion
Where: The Museum at FIT, 7th Avenue @ 27th Street
When: Now through April 10th, 2010

Originally published November 2009
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