Force Of Nature

Exhibition, FIT, New York, US.


From May 30, 2017 until November 18, 2017
Leonardo da Vinci once said: “Those who are inspired by a model other than Nature, a mistress above all matters, are laboring in vain.” Nature has indeed inspired both art and fashion for hundreds of years. Fashion designers often reference the natural world — its flora and fauna, geology, and physical processes — to create wildly imaginative designs. The exhibition Force Of Nature examines the complex relationship between fashion and the natural world, revealing how nature has historically influenced fashion and how fashion can serve as an indicator of society’s relationship with the natural world. Spanning the 18th century to the present, it illustrates how principles in the natural sciences, such as the dynamics of sexual attraction, have informed fashion design.
Force of Nature examines the complex relationship between fashion and the natural world. The exhibition reveals how nature has historically influenced fashion, and how fashion can serve as an indicator of society’s relationship with the natural world. In eighteenth century Europe, for example, nature became an object of renewed fascination as a result of overseas exploration. This fascination found expression in garments that featured depictions of exotic plants and animals.
Spanning the eighteenth century to the present, the exhibition is organized into ten sections, each focusing on a facet of fashion’s connection to nature. Garments, textiles, and accessories, exclusively from the collection of The Museum at FIT, illustrate how principles in the natural sciences, such as the dynamics of sexual attraction, have informed fashion design. Elaborately feathered women’s hats, for example, show how the plumage male birds use for sexual display has been appropriated to emphasize female beauty.