Fortuny, Balenciaga and the Museum at FIT

Fashion truly is art. We are living in the golden age of new museums and exhibits being formed to preserve and archive these functional pieces for all to enjoy.

If you have never seen a couture garment up close, you have to see them in person at one of the many museums or traveling exhibits focusing on this art form.

(Yes, you can go visit one of the modern stores of the designers to see the work. Many of the staff are gracious and appreciative of the attention on the art forms they sell. But it is a STORE. Not all are willing to hear “just looking” and it kills the experience if you feel like the poor country cousin who’s lucky to make it to the big city.)

For international Museum Day, we wanted to focus on just three to start with.

First stop: New York City.

Besides the Costume Institute at the Met, there is an amazing FREE fashion museum at the Goodman Center. The Museum at FIT ( Fashion Institute of Technology) has three types of exhibit space in the museum: special exhibitions, a rotating display of items from the permanent collection, student and faculty shows. It has an amazing online archive to explore for when you cannot visit in person as well as a YouTube channel with 125 videos. New exhibit “Force of Nature” opens at the end of May exploring how nature has inspired fashion designers for centuries.

Museum at FIT
Museum at FIT

Now jumping over to Spain, visit the Balenciaga Museum in San Sebastian, Spain. Focusing only on the work of Cristobal Balenciaga, it uses permanent and special exhibitions to showcase the mastery of the designer. Current special exhibit focuses on the personal collection of Rachel (Bunny) L. Mellon. Site currently also has a digital exhibition in co-op with one of the fashion programs in the region.

Balenciaga Museum
Balenciaga Museum

Our last stop on this mini tour is in Venice, Italy to Palazzo Fortuny, home of Mariano Fortuny. designer of many turn of the century and early 20th century gowns of distinction. Includes his paintings, gowns, textiles and photographs. Wide range of exhibits from the region, covering all eras in addition to exhibits focusing on Fortuny’s own work. YouTube has about 1700 videos for armchair travel.

Palazzo Fortuny
Palazzo Fortuny

Books to explore the designers and the museum locations*:

*I LOVE the DK Eyewitness Travel Guides – great maps, info and depth to learn about a location in one book. You can enjoy it on many levels as they typically have great photos, illustrations and maps.

Fashion Illustrator – Andy Warhol

It’s National Drawing Day!!!

Perfect time to kick off our new feature on fashion illustration and the people who make them.

Today, we visit Andy Warhol’s work.

Although known prominently for his pop art portraits and Campbell Soup cans, he was also an amazing illustrator and got one of his early assignments drawing shoes for Glamour Magazine.

Whimsical and charming, he developed his own style of illustrating with a blotted line technique. He produced drawings of cats, dogs, fashion and other items as inspiration and art directors commissioned him to create during the 1950s.

He became so successful as an illustrator he took on assistants he trained in his style as his business expanded. Opportunities for exhibition of his personal work started to appear and Warhol took full advantage to build his reputation and connections, getting him more than his fifteen minutes of fame.

Books to explore both Andy Warhol’s life and work AND some to get you started drawing.

Online classes to learn about fashion illustration:

  • Brit & Co – Online class taught by Anum Tariq teaching how to draw a basic fashion illustration from the underlying structure to the finished look.
  • Fashion Illustration Tribe Free beginner class and resources with longer online classes.

Skillshare classes by Katie Rodgers, artist/illustrator of Paper Fashion.

Udemy. Skillshare and other online sites have multiple classes on learning to draw by subject and technique.

YouTube also has close to 400,000 online videos to watch about fashion illustration.

For further reading about Andy Warhol: