BIKER CHIC: The newest exhibition at the Museum at FIT, “Beyond Rebellion: Fashioning the Biker Jacket,” tracks its evolution into a designer-worthy garment. From a circa 1980 Schott black leather motorcycle jacket to Stefano Pilati’s fall 2009 black leather jumpsuit for Yves Saint Laurent, visitors can see how the utilitarian look emerged.
Organized by grad students in the Fashion and Textile Studies program, the compact show is on view through April 5. While biker jackets were worn by motorcycle riders in the early twentieth century purely as protective garments, they became popular with movie stars, young adults and fashion designers. By the Fifties, films like “The Wild One” featuring Marlon Brando helped make the jacket an emblem of the outlaw biker.
The exhibition features three sections — an introductory one highlighting how the Perfecto and early history influenced fashion designers. The second area showcases designers’ work inspired by countercultural groups that adopted the look as a sign of social defiance. And the third section spotlights a handful of avant-garde reinterpretations. And while versions by Jean Paul Gaultier and Rick Owens might not be surprising to see in the show, the velvet one by Carolina Herrera will surely cause many to take a second look. Comme des Garcons black leather jacket with a pink gingham and tulle skirt from Rei Kawakubo’s “Biker + Ballerina” collection is featured in the avant-garde section that explores how designers push the boundaries.