Growing up as a fashion-crazed girl in Malaysia was like being a bread lover with celiac’s. So when I moved to the United States to go to college, I couldn’t wait to indulge my fashion proclivities. I happily rocked plaid miniskirts with matching sweaters a la Clueless (I realize I’m probably dating myself here), when one day I overheard a classmate snidely remark, “So nice of her to dress up for class.” Then I started working, and the whole idea of an office wardrobe beckoned, so inspired by the power suits of Dynasty and Working Girl (okay, dating myself again here), I enthusiastically traded my plaid miniskirts and sweaters in for pencil skirts and tailored jackets. A colleague rolled her eyes and stated, “I don’t understand why people dress up for work.”
Time and again I was made to feel like the girl in the ballgown at the ballgame. I understood that for most people, clothing was simply meant to be functional. But for me, it always felt like an opportunity to be creative, albeit on a different type of canvas. I was enthralled with the myriad colors, shapes and textures to choose from. I was enamored with the way a piece of clothing could take you to a different place and time. I marveled at the designers who created wearable art, and I yearned to bring a piece of that world into mine. Fashion was aspirational: it was a bridge between the the life I wanted and the life I had.
The Museum at FIT’s latest exhibition, Fairy Tale Fashion, plays with a similar theme. It captures how fantasy has always been a key component of fashion and how imagination consistently propels design. From the Alexander McQueen gown with embellishments evocative of Rapunzel’s cascading hair, to Noritaka Tatehana’s glass slipper, the phenomenal pieces showcased here prove that the fables we read as children didn’t just leave us with morals and life lessons, but also vivid images that would inspire us and reappear in our closets for years to come. The display reminds us that the right gown can elicit a Cinderella-esque transformation (isn’t this where our obsession with the makeover started?), the same way the right LBD can invoke both a hint of menace and a sense of strength (power dressing in its basest form). The individual pieces in the exhibition are special, and the way in which they intertwine fantasy and reality is nothing short of magical.
Oh, and did I mention? Admission to the Museum at FIT is always free.
227 W 27th St
Tues – Fri Noon – 8PM
Saturday 10AM – 5PM
Closed Sundays, Mondays, and legal holidays
Pair it with:
Tapas at El Quinto Pino
After you return from your trip to that land far, far away, take a stroll over to Chelsea, pop in to El Quinto Pino and allow yourself to be transported once again, but this time to Spain. This quaint restaurant offers you the option of a casual bar experience on one side, or a more classic dining room experience in the other. Spanish tile adorns the wall in the bar area and an amazing wall tapestry takes center stage in the dining room. In combination, these design elements produce an exotic yet relaxed ambiance. The coziness encourages you to linger as you make your way through their tapas menu. The husband-and-wife team behind the establishment also owns Txikito and La Vara, and they are mainstays in the Spanish cuisine scene in New York City. There is a permanent menu — the Uni Panini is a signature dish — but also a smaller rotating menu that highlights items from specific regions in Spain. Bon appetit and bon voyage!
401 W 24th St