Look 32 from Viktor&Rolfs 2003-04 One Woman Show, the labels ode to Tilda Swintons consciously genderless style
Viktor&Rolf A/W 2003, One Woman Show, Look 32/Courtesy of Museum of Fine Arts, Boston

Gender Bending Fashion at the Museum of Fine Arts (MFA), Boston sets out to emphasise that well before Generation Z mainstreamed gender disruption, there was already an extensive history of designers, celebrities and social activists consciously embracing gender fluidity through provocative and often sumptuous sartorial choices.

Just inside, viewers are given a definition of gender-bending and wall texts offering a crash course on relevant terms such as agender, gender queer and transsexual. The shows curator, Michelle Tolini Finamore, clearly intends for these scholarly frameworks to add weight to the fun that lies beyond when, stepping into a long rectangular gallery, you feel as though you are both at and in an elite haute couture show, sashaying down the runway to anthems like Lady Gagas “Born This Way”.

Jet black walls provide backdrops for skinny mannequins posing on podiums backlit in triangles of neon light and plexiglass. The exhibition design succeeds in making the show immersive but also risks trivializing its content, which thoroughly examines how controversial clothing choices (such as 20th-century women daring to “cross dress” in pants and breaking the law at times to do so), have played out amid shifts in how Western society regards gender and sexuality, patriarchy and power.

First there is a shrine to Tilda Swinton, highlighting her non-conforming role in Orlando, the 1992 film loosely based on Virginia Woolfs classic. We observe Look 32 from Viktor&Rolfs 2003-04 One Woman Show, the labels ode to Swintons consciously genderless style. The jacket lapel falls off the mannequins shoulders, opening to a ruffled fan of eight unbuttoned oxford shirts. This toys with the idea of business wear serving as a kind of armour to convey a mans reign over the boardroom table or the modern battlefield. Yet with the narrow waist and tapered trousers, the look is both male and female, corseted and frivolous.

What follows is a tour de force of Western pop cultures great moments of binary disruption and nonconformity. Museumgoers take in the tuxedo and top hat designed by the Hollywood darling Travis Banton and worn by Marlene Dietrich for the scene in Morocco (1930) in which the siren controversially kissed another woman onscreen, and the brocaded pink dress from the Spanish designer Alejandro Gómez Palomos 2017 collection that turned heads when it was worn by a male model in heels and makeup. There is David Bowies iconic Ziggy Stardust suit by Freddie Burretti, and a spectacular floral aqua Gucci suit on loan from Vogues Hamish Bowles.

Mr. Bowles and designers with pieces in the show attended a swanky VIP opening, upping the coolness factor of the exhibition and of the museum in general, which uses shows like this one to reshape itself aRead More – Source


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