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Ravishing: The Rose in Fashion launches at Museum In FIT

Brances of roses enclosed in a pentagonal glass case, located in a dark room with electronic teal-coloured lighting.
  • Written byS. Bendikaite
  • Published date18 August 2021
Brances of roses enclosed in a pentagonal glass case, located in a dark room with electronic teal-coloured lighting.

On August 6 the Museum at Fashion Institute of Technology (FIT) in New York reopened its doors with the debut of a major exhibition, “Ravishing: The Rose in Fashion” co-curated by Amy De La Haye, Professor of Dress History and Curatorship and Co-Director of Centre for Fashion Curation at London College of Fashion. The exhibition, featuring over 130 items and incorporating 75 photographs, explores how the rose has influenced the way we look, dress, feel and fantasise.

Talking about inspiration behind the exhibition, Professor Amy De La Haye cited three main sources:

“Most of my projects are ignited by a curiosity about a garment or group of garments. 'Ravishing: The Rose in Fashion' was inspired by three very different sources - a phrase by T.S. Eliot that reads, '...for the roses, had the look of flowers that are looked at’, Nick Knight's sublime 'Roses from my Garden' images, and my mother's adoration of roses.”

Themes such as love, beauty, sex, sin, gendered identities, rites of passage, transgression, degradation, and death are explored through garments and accessories ranging from the most luxurious hand-woven and embroidered 18th-century silks to pieces from contemporary designers like Charles Jeffrey and Neil Grotzinger.

“Visitors will descend a staircase decorated with a surreal, hand-painted, oversize design of thorny branches and roses. They then enter the 'Rose Garden of Hats' and a 'Rose Garden of Fashion', which display fashion items dating from 18th century court dress to the latest gender-neutral styles. The walls are painted a pale violet colour to suggest dawn and dusk, the times of day when roses are most fragrant. A group of late 19th and early 20th century studio portraits make the point that, whilst not everyone can - or indeed want to - wear designer level fashion, most of us can look, and maybe even feel transformed, by wearing one or more fresh or faux roses. They also demonstrate how roses interface with the fashionable dressed body.”

The exhibition is accompanied by a book ‘Ravishing: The Rose in Fashion; written by Amy de la Haye, exploring the influence of a rose even further. In addition to garments and accessories, the book includes chapters on perfume and jewellery, and a conversation, “On Roses,” with famed photographer Nick Knight, together with contributions from fashion historians Jonathan Faiers, Colleen Hill, Mairi MacKenzie, and Geoffrey Munn.