Just like our perennial fascination with avocado toast and the autumnal charm of PSLs (Pumpkin Spice Lattes), trends in food and fashion share an ephemeral quality. They arrive, set the scene on fire, and make way for the next big thing. One moment we’re all about Y2K style and the next, we’re hunting for the perfect avocado-print t-shirt or that sold-out Barilla pasta purse. This cyclical nature of trends speaks to our constant craving for novelty and diversity, a sentiment shared and fueled by the fashion industry.
Bridging this gap between our ever-changing appetites and sartorial tastes, The Museum at FIT (MFIT) proudly presents an extraordinary exploration of the unexpected crossroads of food and fashion (September 13, 2023 – November 26, 2023). The Food & Fashion exhibition is a testament to how fashion absorbs, reflects, and propels our food-obsessed culture. Showcasing an expertly curated ensemble of over 80 pieces from industry luminaries such as Chanel, Moschino, and Stella McCartney, it brings to life the fascinating influence of food culture on fashion design. This unique blend of culinary and couture creativity is the brainchild of two of MFIT’s brilliant minds, Melissa Marra-Alvarez and Elizabeth Way, who have combined their creative curatorial skills to serve us this delectable feast for the eyes.
Echoing the growing trend The New York Times reported in 2023, food-inspired motifs are becoming the new “florals” in fashion, breaking traditional conventions with a zest. Food & Fashion delves into the depths of this burgeoning phenomenon, scrutinizing how these two intertwined, everyday essentials – food and fashion – significantly contribute to the crafting of personal and cultural identities.
The exhibition begins with “A Day of Food as Fashion,” where visitors embark on a journey from dawn to dusk, discovering the innovative use of food themes woven into our everyday clothing. The journey continues into the main gallery, mirroring the vibrant variety of a bustling “food hall.” Here, you’ll find numerous sections dedicated to a particular theme, offering a comprehensive exploration of the intersection of food and fashion.
Several sections demand special attention. “Haute Couture/Haute Cuisine” juxtaposes the luxury facets of French culture embodied in fashion and food. In contrast, “Dressing to Dine” unravels the historical ties that bound meal times to the dress codes of the elite. Not missing out on the contemporary aspects, “The Camera Eats First” dissects social media’s pivotal role in the constant intermingling of food and fashion.
The exhibition fearlessly approaches more profound subjects too. “We Eat What We Are” and “Sugar, Spice, and Everything Nice?” delve into the realms of cultural representation and gender identities, exploring their intricate ties with food and fashion. In “The Fashion Cookbook,” you will see how fashion brands are transcending their industries’ boundaries to reach the culinary world, preserving their unique aesthetic and values.
Sustainability, a growing concern of the 21st century, is noticed too. In “Growing Alternative” and “Fashion From Your Fridge,” the focus shifts to sustainable practices and innovations shaping fashion’s future.
The section “Activism and Protest” is particularly poignant, providing a stark illustration of how fashion can be used as a vehicle to voice societal issues and demands for social justice, often in collaboration with food movements. Furthermore, “Consuming Bodies” critically examines the fashion industry’s long-standing obsession with body image, challenging and deconstructing traditional notions.
Food & Fashion offers a comprehensive and immersive look at the evolving dynamics of these two significant aspects of our lives.
Accompanying the exhibition is an insightful book, Food & Fashion (Bloomsbury, 2023), offering further depth into the topics covered in the exhibition. Moreover, a symposium scheduled for November 3 promises a vibrant discussion on these subjects.
Adding a digital touch, the museum has partnered with Bloomberg Connects to provide a digital guide for the exhibition. This application, available on your mobile device, enables you to interact with the exhibition remotely and offers insights from the curators in various formats.
The exhibition would not have been possible without the generous support from the Couture Council of The Museum at FIT, the National Endowment for the Arts, The Coby Foundation, and The New York State Council on the Arts. To better understand how these organizations positively impact communities, visit their respective websites.