Byline: Anne D’Innocenzio

NEW YORK — Tommy Hilfiger — who has dubbed 1999 as “the year of music,” putting his muscle behind concert tours for Britney Spears, Jewel and the Rolling Stones — is further putting his stamp on the rock cause.
Hilfiger will be the principal sponsor of “Rock Style,” an exhibit to be launched at the Metropolitan Museum of Art’s Costume Institute, which will celebrate the fashions of 40 rock stars, from the Beatles’ tailored suits, circa 1963, and Elvis Presley’s gold lame designs to Alice Cooper’s black leather jacket studded with nails. The announcement was made at a press briefing Tuesday morning at the museum.
The exhibit, which will be unveiled at the Costume Institute gala on Dec. 6, will showcase 100 items, described by one museum official as the “Picassos of Rock and Roll.” It will be on view from Dec. 9 through March 19.
The exhibition, which is also being sponsored by Vogue and Estee Lauder, is being organized by the Metropolitan and the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in Cleveland, which will showcase the collection next year from May 12 through Sept. 10. It will later travel to London and be on view at the Barbican Centre there from Oct. 4 through Dec. 10, according to museum officials.
“For me, rock stars have always been larger than life,” said Hilfiger in his formal address, adding that their music innovation and fashion style “go hand in hand.”
“My rock and roll Red label collection, my sponsoring the tours, this all dovetails,” said Hilfiger, whose designs, including a reflective suit for Sean (Puffy) Combs and a two-piece look for Spears will be included in the exhibit.
The release of Hilfiger’s book “Rock Style,” to be published by Universe Publications in December, will coincide with the launch of the exhibit, he said.
He added that the genesis of “Rock Style” goes back five years, when he and Richard Martin, curator in charge of the Costume Institute, began talking about the concept.
“Rock Style” will be organized in five different sections, according to James Henke, vice president of exhibitions and curatorial affairs at the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. They are Poets and Dreamers, which will include tailored suits from the Beatles; Icons, which will pay tribute to the Beatles and Elvis Presley; Brilliant Disguise, which will feature such items as David Bowie’s padded spacesuit and Bono’s gold leather suit; Rebels, which will include clothing from such stars as Alice Cooper and Madonna, and High Style, which will spotlight Bob Mackie’s costumes for Cher and Elton John and Madonna’s bustier suit from Jean Paul Gaultier.
The items were culled from a variety of sources, including the Costume Institute and the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, as well as loans from private collections of rock stars.