Category Archives: Artifact

An item worthy of discussion.


Every now and then, Hue stumbles onto the vexing question of fashion versus art. Like, is Alexander McQueen’s jellyfish ensemble art? Or Yves Saint Laurent’s Mondrian dress? What if something is just really exceptionally crafted? Is exacting, painstaking craft itself an art form? Hue goes back and forth on this.

Balenciaga suit, 1948: Fabulous, but is it the "A" word?

Recently, Hue found itself on the opposite side of the question when we took a little field trip to the Museum of Modern Art. Here we noticed that the artists (we’re confident that they’re artists because we found them in an art museum) were trying to horn in on fashion’s act.

We took lots of very bad pictures.  Here’s one:

Hue thinks a Rootstein mannequin would do wonders for this, er, sculpture.

We liked Andrea Zittel’s “Lavender Corduroy Personal Panel” (above) from 1995.  On the MoMA’s website, Zittel explains, “I think the whole point of my work is to pay more attention to using things in a conscious way and observing your reactions to objects.”  I know, right?


It's hard to go shopping when you have eggshells stuck all over your bag.

We wandered upstairs. There we encountered “Maria” (above), a piece from 1966 by Belgian artist (that word again!) Marcel Broodthaers (1924-1976).  The didactic label told us that Broodthaers incorporated humble found objects in direct conversation with Pop Art.  But we think it’s a nice dress anyway.
Then there’s this fellow:

Hue doesn't have to tell you this is by German conceptual artist Joseph Beuys (1921-1986), do we?

The artist created this suit out of felt, a fabric of which we happen to be very fond.  We found the didactic label puzzling:  “Felt can provide protection and warmth as well as detachment and isolation.”  Detachment and isolation?  We can’t think of anything that would make us want to cuddle up more.  We were happy to find out that Beuys modeled this piece on his own suits.  We wanted to take this one down from its austere, cold place on the wall, put it on, and walk away, thus becoming, perhaps, a piece of performance art.
On the other hand, maybe we’ll just buy something bespoke.  We want a good fit, and, frankly, we’re starting to suspect these categories are just in our heads.


Hue loves old things.  Things with a history, and a little bit of mystery.  That’s why we were so heartened to read that Quinn Bradley, who’s earning her MA in Fashion and Textile Studies: History, Theory, Museum Practice, spent last semester in her Advanced Conservation class working on this:

Bradley writes:

“This is a 2000-year-old Nazca textile from Peru. I did 80 hours of conservation on it, which included cleaning, relining, and stabilizing it with net overlays. The lining fills in areas of loss all over, and the invisible net keeps the holes from growing and frayed edges from unraveling more. All stitching was done by hand.”

A public affairs associate at the Smithsonian National Museum of the American Indian, Bradley said, “I had trouble figuring out what the design meant. One day, I was walking through the galleries here where I work when I noticed a piece of Nazca pottery that had a very similar motif. I started to have a hunch that it had something to do with water and irrigation and farming, since Nazca is such an arid coastal region. Then I found an old issue of Hali, a magazine for people who collect antique carpets and textiles. They ran an article about water symbolism in Nazca textiles, and a lot of them had the exact same patterns mine did. So my hunch was right!”

Now, because of something Bradley told us, we’re completely obsessed with the Nazcan Lines, ancient geoglyphs.  Dude.  Those are far out.


Our very own Department of Special Collections and FIT Archives owns some truly excellent fashion illustrations. Like these beauts of Chanel getups over the ages.

Here’s a 1916 sketch from the files of Max Meyer (1876-1953), who later became president of FIT. He sent scouts to Paris to copy the fashions so that he could knock them off in America. This gal digs the pockets on her jersey so much, she can’t keep her eyes open.

Lady in blue

Max Meyer sketch of Chanel outfit. (Source: Max Meyer fashion sketches, 1915-1929)

Here, a black tweed Chanel suit drawn for Bergdorf’s custom salon in the fall of 1965. Hue thinks it’s incredibly sexy, sort of schoolteacher-meets-sailor.

Yes, ma'am!

Chanel outfit from 1965. (Source: Bergdorf Goodman Custom Salon sketch collection, 1930-1969.)

And one from the winter of 1990-91, drawn by none other than Karl Lagerfeld for Nina Hyde, the fashion editor who died earlier that year. The confident line, the casual shading, and Karl’s handwriting… Hue is having palpitations.

For Nina, love Karl

A Karl Lagerfeld sketch from 1990. (Source: Nina Hyde collection, 1914-1996.)