ARTS & ENTERTAINMENT | The Best NYC Museums For Fashion Lovers

Fashion lovers, put on your walking shoes: It’s time to see the best of the catwalk and beyond with a whirlwind tour of New York’s museums.

Whether you’re interested in French couture, cutting-edge fashion, contemporary street style or some serious bling, there’s something for you to feast your eyes upon in the exhibitions now you travel to Manhattan and Brooklyn.

Stop into these New York City museum to see the wearable art on display – and maybe even take some home with you.


As a first stop for fashion historians, it’s only natural to go to the source: The Museum at FIT (Fashion Institute of Technology), a few blocks south of New York’s Fashion District.

The latest exhibition, “Paris: Capital of Fashion” (on view through January 4, 2020), looks at the “mythic glamour” of the city, according to museum director Valerie Steele, and its centuries-old influence on designers of every nationality.

High-fashion aficionados will thrill at seeing pieces such as the original Christian Dior dress from Richard Avedon’s photo “Dovima with Elephants”, Marie Antoinette-inspired confections from John Galliano, Chanel works from both Coco herself and Karl Lagerfels, and more.


The cavernous halls of the Brooklyn Museum always lend themselves to big ideas, and it’s a trip to experience shows such as ‘Pierre Cardin: Future Fashion” (on view through January 5, 2020).

In the exhibition, visitors travel through Start Trek-esque showrooms and space-age disco environments populated with Cardin’s designs for clothing, accessories, runway presentations and other eye-pleasing delights.

Though at first glance much of it can seem like a throwback, it’s illuminating to consider how the still – living designer’s visions of gender-fluid fashion and his savvy shift from French couture into the world of mass of mass merchandising seem all the more relevant in today’s design landscape.


Even if you’re not a designer yourself, it’s illuminating to consider how a garment is made and the physical challenges of creating fashion. And when it comes to celebrating the process of design, the Cooper Hewitt is always the place to go.

The design triennial “Nature” (on view through January 20, 2020) looks at ways technology can enhance or modify fashion, from glowing silk dresses woven from genetically modifies silkworms to Adidas shoes made from marine plastic waste and biofabricated alternatives to leather.

The companion exhibition “Nature by Design” follows the path of patterns such as paisley, as seen on traditional Kashmir shawls and contemporary designs by fashion house Etro and Bill Blass as well as the humble red bandana.


The act of making is as much craft as it is art, and the Museum of Arts and Design brings this concept to the forefront. From the traditional to the technological, it showcases the techniques used in the creative process in its wide-ranging shows.

Its newest exhibition, “The World of Anna Sui” (opening September 12, 2019, through February 23, 2020), looks at the imaginative pop culture approach of the designer and her myriad points of inspiration throughout her nearly 30-year career, including Victorian, punk and American midcentury kitsch.


Even when the Anna Wintour Costume Institute isn’t stomping the halls of the MET with its annual summer blockbuster exhibitions, the venerable institutions is a treasure trove of inspiration for the fashion-minded.

“Jewelry for America” (on view through April 5, 2020) features more than 100 pieces from the Met’s collection, including Cartier diamonds and platinum lorgnettes, turn-of-the-century Tiffany necklaces, and even John Singer Sargent paintings, to trace the evolution of jewelry’s status in America since the country’s founding.


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