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Roberto Cavalli Embroidered Denim Ensemble, bounce 2013. (Photo: Courtesy of Museum at FIT)

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Denim, an indgo-dyed, alloyed t affection t accepted for its backbone and utility, has connected been a basic in American closets. But in contempo decades it has additionally become a a allotment on appearance runways. The aisle from abrasive accessory to appearance attraction is explored by The Museum at FIT’s babysitter Emma McClendon in the exhibition Denim: Fashion’s Frontier, which opens today.

Men’s Work Denim and Brushed Affection Pants, about 1840. (Photo: Courtesy of the Museum at FIT)

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The abstraction for the exhibition began while Ms. McClendon formed on the museum’s bounce 2015 exhibition on Yves Saint Laurent and Halston. “You can’t analysis appearance in the ’70s after advancing beyond a lot [of] denim,” Ms. McClendon said. “It absolutely exploded on all levels of the bazaar during that period. It was the best arresting attribute of cultural change.” When Ms. McClendon began her analysis in the Bounce of 2014, the denim industry wasn’t accomplishing well, with apocalyptic letters of bottomward sales. But then, “all of a sudden, September 2014 hit and it exploded beyond all the runways,” Ms. McClendon said. “It was advantageous timing because bodies [now] absolutely appetite to learn.” Ms. McClendon hopes that admirers will see that, “it’s not aloof about the five-pocket jean…there was a history afore that.”

The exhibition does activate with this accustomed allotment of denim history–the alpha of denim lore–with the adventure of how Levi Strauss created the aboriginal denim five-pocket jeans with nut rivets, acceptable for the adamantine activity of Gold Rush miners. Although the Levi 501s on affectation are not the ones aboriginal invented by Levi Strauss (Ms. McClendon was bound to application pieces alone from FIT’s collection) an iPad shows a photo of one from 1890 so that admirers can analyze it to the 1953 adaptation on display. The aggregate of a beeline beheld history with multimedia elements for both accord and interactivity is effective. It tells the adventure of denim–one of the best all-over apparel in the a world–by walking through its history, both actually and figuratively, in a way that both informs and delights.

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Levi Strauss & Co. Embroidered Denim Jeans, about 1969. (Photo: Courtesy of the Museum at FIT)

The exhibition continues chronologically, in a connected looping band about the ambit of the museum’s aboriginal attic Appearance & Bolt History Gallery, alpha with some examples of aboriginal uses of denim in 19th aeon workwear, connected afore Levi Strauss and his 5-pocket jeans abundantly came on the scene. A sailor compatible and a bastille compatible affectation the pervasiveness of denim in the aboriginal 1900s, as able-bodied as the alive chic and base associations percolating able-bodied afore the cinema artery blackmailer of the 50s, and the hippie anarchy of the 60s.

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It again moves on to the 1930s and the ancestry of denim as a appearance t with Vogue’s aboriginal mention, in 1935, of Levi’s actuality recommended for abrasion for a fashionable dude agronomical vacation. Again World War II came, and with it Claire McCardell’s absolute housewife popover dress and the Rosie Riveter women in denim jumpsuits demography over macho adamantine labor. Then, in the 1950s, Marlon Brando abundantly wore a brace of bound jeans, giving denim a abrogating association of apostasy and delinquency. But again the counter-cultural hippie movement of the ’60s and its embrace of the demonized denim was what led to denim assuredly advancing into the boilerplate by the ’70s.

Comme de Garçons (Junya Watanabe) Dress, repurposed denim, bounce 2002. (Photo: Courtesy of the Museum at FIT)

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The exhibition again traces the acceleration of the European appearance jeans, Jordache jeans and Brooke Shield’s arguable bartering for Calvin Klein jeans in the 80s; to the billowing jeans of hip hop, acid-wash finishing and aggressive ualized adumbration of the ’90s; to the addition of affluence denim with Tom Ford’s 1999 Gucci accumulating of feathered and beaded jeans costing able-bodied over $3,000 (the jeans, able by Gucci, is one of the highlights of the show) which, to the shock of the appearance press, awash out afore it accustomed in food and led to the conception of exceptional jean companies like 7 For All Mankind and Acne in the aboriginal aughts. One of the final pieces, a denim dress by Junya Watanabe for the bounce 2002 Comme des Garçons runway, is addition highlight, assuming the versatility of denim to actualize a afflicted and draped couture garment.

The exhibition ends with a alternative of denim from the bounce 2015 runways–Chloé, Sacai, Dries van Noten, Rachel Comey, Ralph Lauren–a nod to the re-emergence of the 1970s, the decade that brought denim as a appearance account into the mainstream. This attack by Ms. McClendon to accompany the exhibition full-circle, underscores the connected acceptation of not alone the archetypal “heritage” jeans, but additionally of the use of denim in abounding altered garments. As Ms. McClendon explains, denim is a fabric, “so abounding bodies abrasion every day. The bazaar for it is colossal.”

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~~~

Denim: Fashion’s Frontier will be on appearance from December 1 until May 7, 2016

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The Museum at FIT is accessible Tuesday-Friday from Noon-8 p.m., and Saturday from 10 a.m. – 5 p.m. and is amid at:

Seventh Avenue at 27th Street, New York City, 10001-5992

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