The following objects from the collection of The Museum at FIT are a small assortment of the many wonderful stories of women in fashion.
Women of Style
The fashion or style icon is a special type of fashion insider, someone who is far more than an early adopter or celebrity clothes horse. The fashion icon not only inspires fashion designers and validates their clothes, but actually creates looks that influence the way other people dress and/or think about dressing.
This lustrous, cream satin and tulle evening dress projects an ethereal luxury appropriate to its original owner, the Russian Empress Alexandra Feodorovna (1798-1860). The lightweight tulle hovers above an expansive satin skirt and bodice with generous puff sleeves, imparting a feeling of weightlessness. The transparent over-sleeves are probably removable, a feature that would have facilitated the transition from day to evening wear.
This evening ensemble by the American couturier Mainbocher was made for the Duchess of Windsor (1896-1986). An American divorcée, she caused a scandal when the Prince of Wales wanted to marry her. He abdicated, choosing “the woman I love” over the throne of Great Britain. Both of them loved fashion.
Today, many women work as fashion professionals. Historically, women of style have also exerted an influence as valued clients, trendsetters, and muses. From the Duchess of Windsor to Lauren Bacall, Lisa Kirk, and Daphne Guinness, women have forged personal relationships with fashion designers and have sometimes created impressive collections of their work.