Notes on an exhibition in progress – a garden of hats
by Amy de la Haye
'the roses had the look of flowers that are looked at' - T. S. Eliot Burnt Norton (1936)
My current major project is called Ravishing: The Rose in Fashion which comprises an exhibition that will be staged at The Museum at FIT (MFIT) in New York (10 September 2020 – 4 January 2021), which is directed by Dr Valerie Steele and a book published by Yale University Press They are currently both going ahead as scheduled.
The exhibition foregrounds innovative, refined and challenging fashion design dating from c. 1700 to the latest global collections, with many of the objects drawn from MFIT’s superlative collections. The narrative also recognizes that almost everyone can wear, and feel transformed by wearing or holding, one or more fresh roses.
I am working with FIT fashion curator Colleen Hill and in January we spent a joyful four days refining the object list and working on the installation design. The first of the major (downstairs) galleries will suggest a garden with displays of rose themed hats. Having already identified about one hundred from the museum’s superb collection, that are variously decorated with artificial roses, take the shape of a rose or otherwise make references to roses, I classified them into ‘types’ for arrangement in the gallery. The groupings include (and these are only our working titles) clustered roses, rose petals, rose leaves, miniatures and skullcaps
One of my favourite hats from this superb collection is called ‘Primavera’ by American milliner Mr John and dates c. 1950. This rose like millinery form is strewn with pink cotton petals and decorated with artificial wild roses with prominent black tipped stamen, daisies, violets and small yellow flowers.
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