Step back in time 50-plus years, but expect a modern spin when the fourth semester Fashion Design students of the School of Art and Design present the Fall Fashion Design AAS Exhibition Inspired by Motown Revolution, on view in the Great Hall, December 3-9, from 9 am to 9 pm daily. Approximately 62 garments will be on display.
The exhibition (representing both women’s apparel and fashion art) will take its visual and sartorial cues from the Motown Sound and fashions that came out of Motown Records, the record company founded in 1959 by Berry Gordy, Jr., in the Motor City: Detroit, Michigan. Visitors will be treated not only to students’ designs displayed on mannequins, but also their sketches showing the process leading up to the final iterations. All will be displayed in an environment inspired by the sound, look, and time period of Motown’s heyday, using décor, video, and, of course, the music of The Supremes, The Temptations, Marvin Gaye, Stevie Wonder, the Jackson 5, Smokey Robinson and the Miracles, Martha and the Vandellas, and The Four Tops, to name just a few.
The students’ process began at the start of the semester, when each of the six classes, comprising a total of 120 students, was assigned a professional designer as a mentor, along with the faculty. The critics and faculty guided the students throughout the semester, helping them develop the concepts that became their final designs. Each critic then selected a Critic Award Winner from his or her class. The six winning garments, plus two art specialization projects (one for Outstanding Design Presentation and one for Outstanding Design Interpretation), will be prominently displayed in the exhibition. The critics were Bahram Hakakian of Barami; Bonkuk Koo of Embraer Executive Jets; Rita Lant of Candlesticks, Inc.; Maggie McGowan of Michael Kors; Colleen Fletcher-Miller of Norwest USA, Inc.; Scott Nylund; and Jennie Uranga of Sensual, Inc.
The show is a collaboration between the Fashion Design Department and The Museum at FIT, with the museum’s director and chief curator Valerie Steele taking part in the curatorial process of selecting the pieces that will make it into the show.
Given that none of the students had yet been born during the Motown era, they needed to do quite a bit of research, not only on Motown fashion but also on the history, culture, and music of the time. As for what people can expect to see, Eileen Karp, chair, Fashion Design, provided a few hints. “There’s a big influence of military but with pops of color,” she said. “One of the award-winning projects is [like] a bomb going off, with shades of brown and orange. There is also evidence of the Maker Movement, a real hand quality to some of the work but updated for today. In addition to the use of strong color, there is black and white.”