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New Exhibit Puts ’90s Fashion Back In the Spotlight

An upcoming exhibit in New York City will spotlight the origins of several fashion trends and themes that have captivated Gen Z consumers.

The Museum at FIT’s next exhibit “Reinvention and Restlessness: Fashion in the Nineties” will center on the fashion that defined the end of a millennium. Beginning Jan. 19, 2022, the exhibit will display more than 85 garments and accessories that connect 1990s fashion to pop-culture moments and the aesthetics that flourished during the decade.

“With concepts ranging from minimalism to the revitalization of luxury design houses, the 1990s overflowed with styles that intrigued critics and consumers alike,” the museum stated.

The introductory gallery filled with videos of runway presentations and clips from still-relevant films and television shows such as “Clueless” and “Sex and the City” will highlight fashion’s increasing foothold in entertainment and supermodels’ growing fame during the period, while the main gallery will further explore eight important trends that helped define the 1990s.

Minimalism’s pared-down silhouettes and muted colorways will be juxtaposed with grunge’s mix-and-match mashup, which was perceived as a reaction to the excesses of 1980s fashion and popularized by musicians like Nirvana. Likewise, the lavish styles of then-rising talent like Tom Ford and Alexander McQueen will contrast with the deconstructed trend.

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The exhibit will also dissect the internet’s increasing role in fashion, as well as how the “global wardrobe” was influenced by a mélange of styles and influences. The exhibit will also recognize the “handful of forward-thinking designers and labels” that introduced lines that centered on sustainable materials and manufacturing during the time.

“Reinvention and Restlessness: Fashion in the Nineties” is another example of how nostalgia and current fashion are blending and filtering into museum curations. In September, The Costume Institute at the Metropolitan Museum of Art opened the first installment of “In America: A Lexicon of Fashion,” exploring the expressive qualities of American fashion. The exhibit includes designs by Levi’s, Tommy Hilfiger and Perry Ellis—all brands that have an influential role in ’90s fashion.

The exhibition, scheduled to close on April 22, is accompanied by a book of the same title, published by Rizzoli Electa and available at major booksellers. Written by exhibition curator Colleen Hill, the publication also includes essays by curator and writer Shonagh Marshall, MFIT deputy director Patricia Mears, and MFIT director and chief curator Valerie Steele. It features more than 100 images by photographers such as Corrine Day, Patrick Demarchelier, Nick Knight, Rankin, David Sims and Ellen von Unwerth.