With its Lincoln Square location just steps from New York Fashion Week’s main hub, the American Folk Art Museum is fastening its ties to the fashion world.
For a new exhibition that will bow in January, the museum has lined up 13 designer labels, including Creatures of the Wind’s Christopher Peters and Shane Gabier; threeASFOUR’s Gabi Asfour, Angela Donhauser and Adi Gil; John Bartlett; Michael Bastian; Catherine Malandrino, and Bibhu Mohapatra. For “Folk Couture: Fashion and Folk Art,” each designer selected one or more works from the traditional AFAM collection to explore their own creative impulses. Chadwick Bell, Gary Graham, NotEqual’s Fabio Costa, Ronaldus Shamask, Koos van den Akker, Yeohlee Teng and Jean Yu will also participate in the show, which opens Jan. 21.
Museum director Anne-Imelda Radice said, “The fascinating interplay between art and fashion, which has always existed, has lately become even more intriguing.”
Guests at the museum’s Folk Couture Benefit Gala on Oct. 16 at the Tribeca Rooftop will get a preview of the show. The event is being organized by fashion notables such as honorary chair Betsy Bloomingdale, as well as benefit committee members Valentino, Francisco Costa, Simon Doonan and Diana Taylor. Also, pitching in will be Steven Kolb, Betsey Johnson and André Leon Talley. This year’s benefit will honor Valerie Steele, director and chief curator of the Museum at FIT, and Lucy Sykes Rellie.
Stacy C. Hollander, chief curator and exhibition director, said Tuesday, “‘Folk Couture: Fashion and Folk Art’ is about the nature of inspiration, and the exchange of ideas between one art-making sphere and another. It also highlights a history of fashion as depicted in folk art. Perhaps most important is the notion that couture is often inspired by observing the vitality of life, which is an essential quality of folk art. By responding to works from the museum’s collection, the designers have entered the myriad worlds portrayed in our collection.”
Each of their creations will be juxtaposed beside the piece of work from the museum’s collection that inspired it. Known for his signature fabric collages (which resemble pieced quilts), van den Akker has created the most direct interpretation of the museum’s collection. He designed and printed original fabric depicting a montage of images of numerous selected artworks that will be assembled into an elaborate gown.