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The Evolution of Style: FIT’s Trend-ology Exhibit
At the Fashion Institute of Technology through April 30.
Last updated: 02/18/2014
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Dress, tartan silk, c. 1812, Scotland.

Dress, tartan silk, c. 1812, Scotland.

What comes to mind when you hear the word trend? If you're not a budding fashionista, your first thought is probably twitter. When something is breaking news, hot, or happening it's “trending”.

In a new exhibition at the Fashion Institute of Technology, museum curators have used the word “trend” as a focal point in the Trend-ology Exhibit. Consisting of about 100 different designs from several different time periods, "Trend-ology" examines the origin of trends in the fashion world.  Plaid, for example, started with writer/poet Sir Walter Scott, when he created a tartan (plaid) dress code. Scott advised King George IV to wear a tartan dress during his state visit to Scotland as a way of gaining respect from the Scottish people -- after which, the king adopted it as his "official attire" and it became a trend amongst Scottish urban nobility. The exhibit also investigates the meaning of the word “trend” and how or why something becomes a trend. In the mini-documentary set up at the beginning of the exhibit, fashion insiders are asked to define the word trend and discuss where and how previous trends have been started. The exhibit expands on this topic by equipping each garment with a detailed description about when it first emerged, why it was so revolutionary and what was happening in the world that made the trend stick.

Some of the most notable trends on display were plaids and polkadots, coined as “The American Look” by former Lord & Taylor president Dorothy Shaver; the "mini skirt"; 80s fashion; Donna Karan's first collection of interchangeable garments; John

Donna Karan, Interchangeable Dress

Donna Karan, Interchangeable Dress

Galliano's evolutionary camouflage trend; the infamous Moschino jacket, emblazoned with the logo and the words “Signed Garment” on the back -- which was meant to be a comment on the logo obsessed fashion industry; and, most recently, Rad Hourani's unisex fashion.

The exhibit and the choice of garments showcased certainly puts a magnifying glass to some of history's most pivotal fashion moments, but the part that ties it all together is the short video at the very beginning of the exhibit. Author Elizabeth Cline, Creative Ambassador of Barneys Simon Doonan and Refinery29's Senior Global Editor Connie Wang all discuss the impact “trends” have on consumers and how retailers like Zara, H&M, and Forever21 are groundbreaking in their production rate of runway trends -- "making them the smartest yet most devastating thing to happen to fashion", said one of the documentaries interviewees. The mini-documentary really puts the idea of a "trend" into perspective for the audience and allows you to go through the exhibit with a much more critical eye.  For example, onlookers are able to see up close how much of an affect culture, politics, music, and worldly events have on fashion, and how these aspects of life produce most of the trends that end up becoming globalized and timeless.

 

 

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Christina Gonzalez
Fashion enthusiast, writer and educator in the making.
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