Power Mode: The Force of Fashion
Exhibition at FIT, New York, US
10.12.2019 - 09.05.2020

Power Mode: The Force of Fashion

Installation view of Power Mode: The Force of Fashion at The Museum at FIT, ©The Museum at FIT


The Museum at FIT presents Power Mode: The Force of Fashion, an exhibition that explores the multiple roles fashion plays in establishing, reinforcing, and challenging power dynamics within society. Power Mode features over 50 objects from the museum’s permanent collection, many of which have never before been on public view.

The word “power” frequently appears in discussions of fashion—power dressing, power heels, the power suit—but what do these terms actually mean? What makes a suit or a heel “powerful”? In terms of kinetic force, like electrical power, an inanimate item of clothing does not generate or contain power. Instead, the force of fashion is symbolic. It is social. It is related to political position and economic status. It is also tied to military strength, sexual authority, rebellion, and protest. Power, in this sense, is part personal identity, part behavior, and part visual expression.

Power Mode is organized thematically into five sections that focus on the influence of military uniforms, status dressing, suits, resistance, and sex. Men’s and women’s clothing are considered side by side, and pieces from as early as the 18th century are juxtaposed with looks from contemporary collections.

Power Mode: The Force of Fashion is organized by Emma McClendon, associate curator of costume. It is on view from December 10, 2019, through May 9, 2020.

The Museum at FIT, part of the Fashion Institute of Technology (FIT), which is accredited by the American Alliance of Museums, is the only museum in New York City dedicated solely to the art of fashion. Best known for its innovative and award-winning exhibitions, the museum has a collection of more than 50,000 garments and accessories dating from the 18th century to the present. Like other fashion museums, such as the Musée de la Mode, the Mode Museum, and the Museo de la Moda, The Museum at FIT collects, conserves, documents, exhibits, and interprets fashion. The museum’s mission is to advance knowledge of fashion through exhibitions, publications, and public programs.

more information: https://exhibitions.fitnyc.edu/power-mode/

Installation view of Power Mode: The Force of Fashion at The Museum at FIT. (left to right) Man’s denim jacket and jeans, c. 1970, woman’s leather halter top and denim shorts, c. 1970, both gift of the Nancy Hariton Gewirz Collection; Gucci by Tom Ford, ensemble, spring 1999, gift of gucci; Patrick Kelly, dress, fall 1987, gift of Bjorn G. Amelan and Bill T. Jones, ©The Museum at FIT

Installation view of Power Mode: The Force of Fashion at The Museum at FIT, ©The Museum at FIT

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