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Crystal Bridges to unveil new exhibit, Fashioning America: Grit to Glamour

Crystal Bridges will explore the diverse origins and future of American fashion in their latest exhibition, Fashioning America: Grit to Glamour.

BENTONVILLE, Ark. — Crystal Bridges Museum of American Art will present its first exhibition dedicated to fashion this fall— Fashioning America: Grit to Glamour.

The museum will partner with the Council of Fashion Designers of America, Inc. (CFDA) to celebrate design and explore issues that will impact the future of the American fashion industry.

Fashioning America will be on display from September 10, 2022, to January 30, 2023, in the museum’s Temporary Exhibition Gallery. 

Paid admission will be required for this exhibition, and tickets will be available starting on Tuesday, July 26, 2022, via the museum’s website.

General admission tickets will be $12 for adults, with other discounts available. The exhibition will be free for members, SNAP (Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program) participants, veterans, and those 18 and under. 

The exhibition will explore two centuries worth of innovative and distinctly American fashion through the work of over 100 designers and fashion labels on display.

The exhibition will also celebrate our nation's diverse fashion background, plus spotlight untold stories of underrepresented designers, important contemporary movements that shaped the industry, and American fashion’s resonance in global trends and visual culture.

Seven themed sections will showcase the expanse of American fashion, from Hollywood glamour to street style, and feature geographical representation of various fashion designers and history from across the country.

According to Olivia Walton, a museum board chairperson, Crystal Bridges has always been a platform for inclusive storytelling.

"Fashion is very much the art of our everyday lives, a medium of self-expression and culture, a wellspring of creativity and vision. We are so excited to bring these voices and stories to the heartland of America,” said Walton.

The exhibition will feature pieces on loan from Vogue magazine's global editor at large, Hamish Bowles, plus other private collections and designers such as Ralph Lauren, Nike, Vera Wang, Levi-Strauss, Virgil Abloh, Carolina Herrera, Patricia Michaels, Virgil Ortiz, Anna Sui, and Isabel Toledo.

Michelle Tolini Finamore, the exhibition’s curator, expressed her excitement at being able to capture the role fashion has played over time.

“American fashion reflects the complexity of America writ large, weaving together stories of innovation, immigration, independence, self-invention, and creativity,” said Finamore.

Along with boasting highlights from fashion legends, the exhibition will also tell the stories of little-known fashion heroes who found great success within the male-dominated fashion industry.

For example, Ann Lowe, who designed Jackie Kennedy’s wedding dress, streetwear designer Olivia Anthony, and corset inventor Emmeline Philbrook to name a few.

"The sweeping story of American fashion encompasses designers from all walks of life — from the rural to the urban, from the regional to the global — who embody history past and present and represent issues related to inclusion and exclusion," Finamore explained.

Designs by Christian Siriano, Halston, Rudi Gernreich, Ikire Jones, and more have ties to themes surrounding queer culture, gender non-binary inclusivity, body positivity, and social activism.

Demonstrations of sustainable fashion can be viewed through designs by zero-waste pioneers like Shelly Xu and Natalie “Alabama” Chanin.

Additionally, the first-ever interactive digital garment in a museum exhibition will debut in Fashioning America through a collaboration with bionic pop artist and futurist Viktoria Modesta. 

On September 9, a special opening event will feature gallery activities, artmaking, demonstrations, workshops for all ages, and speeches from Finamore, Modesta, and Ortiz.

On November 12, in collaboration with INTERFORM, a Northwest Arkansas-based nonprofit supporting fashion designers and entrepreneurs, the museum will host a full day of designer panel discussions and collection presentations.

Additional programming and details will be shared on the museum's website.

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