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Dress (robe à la française) and petticoat
England, ca. 1760
Silk taffeta

Photo: Takashi Hatakeyama

Staff Report

NEW YORK, 25 FEBRUARY 2006—Organized by the Kyoto Costume Institute (KCI) Japan and on display until 26 March 2006, the exhibition Fashion in Colors at the Cooper-Hewitt, National Design Museum in New York explores color as a design element through 300 years of Western fashion and examines changing perceptions of color through various ages and cultures. 

Viktor & Rolf: Jacket and pants
The Netherlands, 2003
Wool, layered with cotton and silk collars
Photo: Takashi Hatakeyama

More than sixty historic and contemporary fashions, drawn from KCI’s collection of more than 11,000 Western-style dresses and dating from the 18th century to the present, are on view on the first and second floors of the museum.  The costumed mannequins are installed according to six separate color-saturated schemes (black, multicolor, blue, red, yellow and white), which emphasize and highlight the cultural, spiritual and social associations often linked with each color.  By grouping the historic and contemporary costumes by color, previously unseen details and structures of the clothing will emerge for the viewer, and similar elements and trends will reappear in dresses separated by hundreds of years.

Junya Watanabe: Jacket and skirt
Japan, 2000
Polyester organdy
Photo: Takashi Hatakeyama

Exhibition highlights include modern and contemporary masterpieces by Gabrielle (Coco) Chanel, Christian Dior, Elsa Schiaparelli, Emilio Pucci, Cristobal Balenciaga, Rei Kawakubo/Comme des Garçons and Viktor & Rolf, along with historical costumes, including late 18th-century gowns and late 19th-century bustle-style dresses. 

Fashion in Colors at the Cooper-Hewitt, National Design Museum, New York
Photo courtesy of  Cooper-Hewitt, National Design Museum

Fashion in Colors
Cooper-Hewitt, National Design Museum, New York
Through 26 March 2006
Tel: (1) 212 849 83 51

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