HEAVY METAL: Aluminum doesn’t often command the same level of respect that silver, gold or platinum enjoy, but the Rodney Dangerfield of the metal world is getting the star treatment with an exhibition that opened last week at the The Wolfsonian-Florida International University in Miami Beach.

“Aluminum by Design: From Jewelry to Jets,” which runs through April 7, examines the most plentiful metal in the earth’s crust, its development and its uses since the German chemist Friedrich Wohler was first able to produce pure aluminum in 1845.

After its first wide-scale use during World War I, aluminum manufacturers discovered new functions for the inexpensive, lightweight material that appealed to the developing modern age of air travel and suburban expansion. By the Sixties, aluminum had become an established alternative for all sorts of product designs, when even Paco Rabanne experimented with a minidress made of aluminum squares.

Among the highlights from the exhibit are a 1939 souvenir tray from the New York World’s Fair, Marcel Breuer’s wood and aluminum side chair from 1932 and, one of the show’s earliest pieces, a parade helmet from Prince Ferdinand from the 1850s lent by the Royal Danish Collections. There are also contemporary examples of aluminum in design, like baseball bats and Sony’s Aibo robotic dogs. Further information on the show and a schedule of lectures is available at wolfsonian.org.

ROGUE GALLERY: Curators of a new exhibit opening in the Netherlands this weekend are pulling the rug out from under the theory that fashion is an art form. The show, called “Higher Truth #5” aims to expose the well-oiled marketing machines and product polishing that goes into fashion design and retailing by creating a spoof of a flagship at De Vleeshal, a museum in Middleburg.

Visitors are greeted at the entrance to the show by an attractive sales associate wearing clothes made by Dutch designer Alexander van Slobbe, but inside, the shelves are bare. In a dressing room, patrons see themselves on a video monitor, but the time-delayed camera shoots them from the rear, poking fun at similar technology in Prada’s new SoHo flagship. Even the name of the show — “Higher Truth #5” spoofs the fragrance campaigns of Christian Dior, Calvin Klein and Chanel.

Cashiers accept the visitor’s admission fee at the end of the exhibit and hand out photocopies of fashion articles and essays wrapped in tissue paper and white bags, as they would merchandise in a real luxury shop. “The visitor takes home the content,” said Rutger Wolfson, co-curator with Guus Beumer. “The rest is only form. Every strategy is employed — special lighting, scents, music. But there’s no product.” Beumer, who also works on van Slobbe’s SO line, added, “We wanted to show that fashion has become an art in itself, without the necessity of a dress.”

Further information is available at vleeshal.nl.

THE FAST AND THE FEMALE: Ducati wants more women to start their engines. The Italian motorcycle company has overhauled its Monster 620 to try to make it more user-friendly for female urbanites. With electronic fuel injection, the bike offers a smoother ride on city streets where stoplights are a given. The new model has a seat that is lower to the ground, higher handlebars, stronger chassis and a sleeker tank to make the 390-pound machine easier to handle.

The $6,700 bike will retail at all of Ducati’s freestanding U.S. stores and dealers later this month. Though not designed for racing, the M620 can go up to 140 miles per hour. “This is a bike that can be used by everybody. It’s more about fashion than high-performance sport,” said Daniele Casolari, director of Ducati’s Monster division. “We wanted to design something that even nonbikers could approach.”

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