Tag Archives: museum exhibit

Discovering a Major: Visual Presentation and Exhibition Design

by Kate Kim as told to Emily Bennett

Kate Kim

Kate Kim

I am currently in my final semester in Fabric Styling, but I got my Associate’s degree in Visual Presentation and Exhibition Design.

A display I designed for Sol Republic headphones

A display I designed for Sol Republic headphones

The Visual Presentation and Exhibition Design (VPED) major focuses on the visual aspects of designing displays and equipment, and the overall merchandising of a store. We also gain experience designing “pop-up shops”, which are gaining popularity in today’s market. People who choose this major generally have goals of becoming visual merchandisers, merchandise display designers, store layout designers, or window display designers. This major was the number one factor why FIT was my top choice. There is no other program like VPED in the whole country! What really drew me in was the fact that it specializes in a specific industry, yet it provides so many various opportunities career-wise. Because of the classes I took, I have experience creating visual presentations and displays for brick-and-mortar stores, pop-up shops, museums, showrooms, exhibition and event spaces as well as experience in event planning, set design, mannequin styling and even more! Right now I am interning with Michael Kors.

A Point of Purchase design encouraging voting

A Point of Purchase design to encourage voting

Mannequins I styled that were on display in the windows looking out onto Seventh Avenue

Mannequins I styled that were on display in the windows looking out onto Seventh Avenue

  I chose VPED because I was fascinated with the idea of capturing people’s attention on the street with a window display, therefore creating interest to come inside to shop. Some of the classes I really enjoyed were Display Graphics, Point-of-Purchase Display Design, Design and Rendering, Event and Promotion Design and Exhibition Design. I think the most interesting class I took was the Exhibition Design one. We had to design a pop up shop layout as well as the merchandise displays. I remember working on the 7th Avenue window with a group to create props and design a window to display merchandise. This was seen by everyone who walked by the school!

A design for the pop-up shop version of Bonobos

A design for the store Bonobos

The greatest thing I learned from attending FIT was mastering several computer graphics programs as well as familiarizing myself with the fashion and visual design industry.


Find out more about Visual Presentation and Exhibition Design here!

Note: Starting in Fall of 2015 the Visual Presentation and Exhibition Design major will no longer be an Associate’s of Applied Science Degree. The College has changed it to a Bachelor of Fine Arts Degree. The College recommends any students interested in pursuing a BFA in VPED to first complete their Associate’s Degree in Communication Design.

–Emily–

Influencers at FIT – Valerie Steele

Here at FIT we have a vast resource at our fingertips: the Museum at FIT (located below the Gladys Marcus library). In addition to the numerous exhibitions held every year, students also have access to the study collection where garments, accessories and textiles can be seen up close.  Valerie Steele is the curator of the Museum, a prolific fashion academic, and the editor of the journal Fashion Theory. I sat down with Ms. Steele to discuss her impressive history as well as the museum’s past and future:

Credit: Aaron Cobbett

Credit: Aaron Cobbett

This interview has been edited and condensed for publication


Since this interview is for the Admissions Blog, I wanted to ask you a little about your own education. What did you find most helpful about your university education?

Hmm…well, I’ve never been asked that before. I guess that the most important thing I learned, both as an undergraduate at Dartmouth and a graduate student at Yale, was how to do research–learning how to use primary research. I know when I used to teach in the graduate school here at FIT, that was something I pounded into the students, the difference between primary and secondary research. That was something I thought was especially important.

You said that while getting your PhD the study of fashion was really vilified. Being here in New York, which is one of the “big four” fashion capitals, and also being here at FIT one of the best design schools, it may seem like this has passed, but do you think there has actually been change outside of this bubble?

Well, I think fashion is much more accepted as a field of serious study. There are many more people around the world working on articles, books and exhibitions about fashion. On the other hand, there are still very few places that offer a doctorate in fashion studies. It is still very much an interdisciplinary field. So, if you want to go ahead and study fashion you still have to think, “Will I be in an art history department or history or cultural studies? Where can I find someplace to study that?”

And you never studied museum-ology or museum theory, so was it difficult to transition from academic writing to more creatively focused exhibitions?

It’s interesting you should ask that. My doctorate is in Modern European Cultural and Intellectual History, but I did every single class, except one, and my dissertation in the history of fashion. When I started teaching in the graduate school at FIT, it was in what was then the Museum Studies Costume and Textiles Department, now it is called Fashion and Textiles Studies: History, Theory and Museum Practice. So I was teaching fashion history, but within the framework of a museum studies program. Obviously it was exciting and new to actually be putting on exhibitions here. That was a big thrill. It is not that different from the kind of research you do for putting together a big article or a book. In fact, all my big exhibitions here are accompanied by a book as well, so it is the same kind of research procedure.

In that same vein, who do you see as the audience of the Museum at FIT, and how do you pique their interests?

Well, our audiences are multiple. Obviously the FIT community is one of our core audiences, and then people in fashion and design-related fields are another. A third is just the museum-going public, and that is very much an international public. So, we try to do shows that represent original research, but that are also accessible to people at all levels of sophistication. A lot of the FIT community or designers who come to shows really know a lot about fashion history and design so you have to give them more, extra in-depth things. But you also want to be accessible to people who walk in off the street. They might be anyone from a six-year-old to a grandma who might not know very much about fashion, but you have to intrigue them as well. That is the idea to try and present it in a way which is visually stimulating and exciting so that whether they know anything about the topic or if they bother to read anything, they can still get something out of the show.

I actually have noticed a lot of children when I am in the museum, and I am amazed they are not only interested, but they comment on stuff!

Oh they will! Absolutely! A colleague of mine brought her two-year-old son to the corset show, and she said he just sat down on the floor and gazed up at this Vivenne Westwood corset-dress. She thought it was wonderful, she said, “oh there he is fantasizing about the eternal feminine.”

What do you think the hardest part about developing a show is? Is it picking the topic or is it finding people to work with or…?

Oh, I don’t know if there is a “hardest” part. I think one of the challenges is actually getting your hands on the things you want to put in the show. You’ll do all kinds of research, and you’ll think, “Okay I want this dress, I want this dress…” but then you have to find out who owns that? And will they lend it to me? And how much will it cost to borrow it, how can I raise the money to borrow it? Et cetera, et cetera.

Well, that leads me into my next question. The Metropolitan Museum of Art’s Costume Institute collection is the only one, at least in New York, that can even compare to the one at the Museum at FIT. So what is your relationship with them, do you borrow and lend a lot for shows?

We do borrow and lend with them. I wouldn’t say a lot, but every few shows they will borrow something from us or we will borrow from them. Two pieces in the dance exhibition are from the Met, and we’re lending I think four pieces to their China exhibition which will open in the Spring.

So it is only a few pieces then. I guess you both have such huge collections neither of you need to borrow anything.

Well, it is interesting, we will borrow back and forth for a few key pieces, and both of us have a pretty good idea of what is in the other collection. We also borrow and lend from the Museum of the City of New York, which also has a fantastic collection. Most of the older things, for example, if there is a 19th century thing, we will try and borrow from them. We also loaned to their Stephen Burrows show a year ago.

Oh yes, I saw that show and I have to admit I was a little surprised. I didn’t think the Museum of the City of New York had that much fashion, but I guess they do.

Oh, they do! They have a really wonderful fashion collection.

Is there one specific exhibit that sticks out in your mind as being particularly exciting or difficult or just interesting for you?

Well, a couple. I loved working on Gothic: Dark Glamour. That was the first time we did a really immersive mise-en- scène with a graveyard, a laboratory, and a ruined castle and things. That was great fun, and I think good preparation for upcoming shows like our fairy tale show, which we will do in 2016 that will similarly have dramatic mise-en-scènes. And then, of course, A Queer History of Fashion won us a lot of prizes, particularly for the work that we did both in reaching out to the LGBT community and doing media online. I think that was also good preparation for remembering to focus on diversity themes in all of our shows and also remembering to emphasize media media media! It is a great way to reach out to people. Even if they cannot come in the door of the exhibition, they can still get information and images online.

Who writes for Fashion Theory, which is your journal?

It is mostly curators and professors and graduate students.

So is it mostly people you have met? Or do people apply?

No, no it is a peer-reviewed journal which means that people send things in, and then I have to find one or two experts in their field who will peer review it and say whether or not it is good enough to go in, or absolutely not, or can it go in only if they make x, y, z changes. It is much more prestigious and important for scholars to be published in a peer-reviewed journal than just a regular magazine.

I just wanted to introduce the readers to the Couture Council, because I think a lot of people don’t even know that it exists. And to be honest, I don’ t know that much about it because there isn’t that much information available.

Yes, the Couture Council is a friends group, which many museums have. It is a membership group; members pay $1,000 a year and young members under 35 pay $350 a year. They can come to various events, and the money–their membership fees along with the awards luncheon–help fund exhibitions, public programs and acquisitions for the museum. We get some money from corporations and foundations, but the Couture Council is nice because it is reliable. No matter what our show is about, whether it is a kooky one that we can’t get any corporate sponsors to fund, or it is controversial in some way, we know the Couture Council is there to help support all our exhibitions and all our public programs.

Lastly, is there anything you would like to do professionally that you haven’t had the chance to do yet?

Well, of course, if you had your own television show, you could reach a bigger audience. I do a lot of [appearances on] TV shows, but I think there is a lot more that could be done. Now, of course, television is becoming a bit outdated, so you really have to think in terms of the world-wide web. We have a new department specifically focusing on media and new initiatives. Many of the videos shown in the lobby are on the YouTube page. On YouTube there’s a little of this and a little of that. Each of the fashion exhibitions has its own website and we’re increasingly doing videos for those.

Yes, I have used the exhibition websites for information for some class projects. They are done really beautifully. Well, thank you so much for sitting down with me. It was a pleasure talking to you!

Of course, with pleasure! Thank you, it was nice talking to you!

–Emily–

Museums and Fashion

Hello there,

People tend to think studying fashion is such an unimportant career or associated to a vain life. But then again, have you realized you wear clothes EVERY SINGLE DAY? (go ahead, really think about it peeps)

Did you also know that:

if every man, woman, and child in China bought two pair of wool socks, there would be no more wool left in the world.

It’s ok if by now you are already convinced as to the importance of the fashion industry. Lets face it, in all the movies about the future things always change, some things disappear, other things are new but the one constant is that people are STILL wearing clothes. (and I don’t see that changing anytime soon) Rest assured, I will be employed for the rest of my life.

So if you want to further your education about fashion and its relation to art, culture, history, architecture, politics and science here are the exhibits you HAVE to check out while in NYC:

  1. The Museum at FIT (free entrance)

Exposed: A History of Lingerie (up and running until Nov. 15)

Exposed_2000.89.15_75.86.5B_20140311_01_375

Dance and Fashion (up and running until Jan. 3)

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2. Killer Heels: The Art of the High-Heeled Shoe at the Brooklyn Museum (up and running until Feb. 15)EL129.109_480W

 

3. Death Becomes Her: A Century of Mourning Attire at the Metropolitan Museum of Art (Recommended entrance fee 10$ students, broke students like me $2, up and running until Feb. 1)

1 Mourning Ensemble 18701872teaser

I had an amazing time with my mom and friends this past week at the different museums. We learned so much from these four exhibitions, so I highly recommend them.

Enjoy, im off to my free massage at the FIT Health Center.

Carpe Diem,

Sadie

 

Like, Share, Retweet, Follow – FIT is All Over That Social Media Game

Want to stay updated on all things FIT? Well here is an easy map to make it easy for you:

INSTAGRAM

FACEBOOK

TWITTER

FIT’S EVENTS CALENDAR

THE GLADYS MARCUS LIBRARY

FACEBOOK

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FIT’S LIBRARY INSTAGRAM

PINTEREST 

THE SPECIAL COLLECTION’S FACEBOOK

THE SPECIAL COLLECTION’S TWITTER

STUDY ABROAD

TWITTER

FACEBOOK

INSTAGRAM

BLOG

THE MUSEUM AT FIT

TWITTER

FACEBOOK

EVENTS CALENDAR

FIT has endless blogs, Twitters, Facebooks, Instagrams, etc. so feel free to comment with one you found and particularly liked and I will keep updating this list. These were just some highlights I thought most would find helpful and interesting.

–Emily–

Let’s Dance

The Museum at FIT is one of the best resources for design students here. There is almost always two exhibitions on view that can serve as inspiration for any personal or required projects. The exhibits can also be helpful for any student who is interested in learning more about fashion history.

Currently the upstairs exhibit is called Exposed: A History of Lingerie (on view until November 15). The main exhibit, which is located below the main floor, is titled Dance & Fashion (on view until January 3).

DANCE-FASHION-01

The exhibit starts its focus on the development of the “traditional” ballet outfit and continues through  the Ballet Russes, modern and then contemporary dance.

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The "Team Vicious" steppers featured in Rick Owen's Spring 2014 runway show

The “Team Vicious” steppers featured in Rick Owen’s Spring 2014 runway show

In the main lobby, there are benches surrounding a television that plays videos of designers, costumers and choreographers collaborating on a loop. It is very interesting to see  where the lines of modern design, stage costume and the athleticism of the dancers intersect.

Prabal Gurung's design for the NYC Ballet (Fall of 2013) in the workshop. The finished garment is on display in the exhibit

Prabal Gurung’s design for the NYC Ballet (Fall of 2013) in the workshop. The finished garment is on display in the exhibit

The Museum at FIT also hosts two day symposiums every fall that bring together experts on the current exhibit. I personally love the symposiums, and although I sometimes have to miss some of the presentations because of classes, I try to stay for as many as possible. It is a completely free way to hear some of the most brilliant minds in fashion and cultural history.

A presentation during the  "Ivy Style" symposium in 2012

A presentation during the “Ivy Style” symposium in 2012

Some other resources the Museum provides are online exhibitions and (some of) their extensive archive is available to outside researchers as well as graduate AND undergraduate students. I will talk about the research opportunities in a future post, but the online exhibitions are a very valuable resource as well. It is not quite the same as seeing the exhibit in person, but the museum provides the academic information and pictures of the key garments that were on display. It is very helpful if your inspiration for a project relates to a past exhibit.

Lastly, the Museum at FIT is a strong advocate for student work. While the main exhibition spaces are reserved for scholarly shows curated by professionals who work for the museum, there is a side gallery that almost exclusively features student work. Displays of faculty work rotate with the final projects of some of the graduating students. The Museum Studies graduate program also curates their exhibitions in this space.

The Museum is open to the public and completely FREE! So be sure to stop by if you are visiting campus or if you live in the area. It is located on the corner of 27th street and 7th Avenue.

–Emily–