NEW YORK — Tinseltown takes the prize for glamour, but New York is vying for an honorable mention.
Glamour in all its shapes and forms will be on display in two upcoming exhibitions at the Museum at the Fashion Institute of Technology and at the Museum of the City of New York, which will bow Feb. 15 in their respective spaces. Executives from F.I.T. and the Museum of the City of New York collaborated — even agreeing to use glamour in their show names — to drum up interest in each exhibit.
Phyllis Magidson, curator of costumes and textiles at the Museum of the City of New York, explained, “We envisioned working in tandem. These are two sides of the same coin.”
FIT’s “Glamour: Fashion, Film, Fantasy” runs through April 7 and features 100 fashions, including several worn by Hollywood icons such as a Galanos leopard print chiffon gown trimmed with feathers worn by Rosalind Russell and a Schiaparelli brilliant red evening dress worn by Rita Hayworth.
Valerie Steele, director and chief curator of the Museum at FIT, noted that scholars believe glamour was initially associated with aristocracy prior to the French Revolution. Over the years, it became a moniker for girls, gigolos, WWI aviators and Hollywood stars. While doing research for the exhibition, Steele dug up her favorite description of glamour in Margaret Thorp’s 1939 book “America at the Movies.” “Glamour is sex appeal plus luxury plus elegance plus romance.”
Dresses donned by Marlene Dietrich, Marilyn Monroe and Madonna will also be showcased, including the Bob Mackie strapless gown covered with white bugle beads worn by the Material Girl to the 1991 Academy Awards. Adrian’s red, sequined evening dress worn by Joan Crawford in the film “The Bride Wore Red” is expected to be another showstopper.
Stephen Gundle, senior lecturer at the University of London, and Thomas Sokolowski, director of the Andy Warhol Museum in Pittsburgh, will be among the scholars, curators and authors who will gather Feb. 25 and 26 at FIT for its third annual fashion symposium, which is being held in conjunction with the exhibition. Academy Award fashions, film and theater costumes and fashion photography will be among the subjects explored.Each museum will reference the other’s glamour-themed exhibits to encourage museumgoers to see both.
Uptown at the Museum of the City of New York, “Glamour, New York Style” will spotlight glamorous people and events in New York City, as well as the tough-to-define concept of glamour as a commodity. Gowns worn by Caroline Webster Schermerhorn Astor, Babe Paley and opera star Renata Tebaldi will be on display through July 7.
The uptown museum also touches upon the 1789 gala that celebrated the election of George Washington, the 1860 Prince of Wales Ball and Truman Capote’s iconic 1966 Black & White Ball, among other shindigs.
“Our exhibition is about glamour in New York City, and in doing so, glamour is categorized by events that determined glamour through association,” Magidson said, admitting that not all the guests were necessarily glamorous. “Many people attained a level of glamour by being there.”
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