Alexandra Lange
Architecture & design critic

MoMA Makes A List of Iconic Fashion "Items"

Aran sweater interpreted by Catherine Losing. Courtesy of the Museum of Modern Art.

There are no Vogue covers at the entrance to the Museum of Modern Art’s first fashion exhibition since 1944. No mannequins, no ball gowns. “Items: Is Fashion Modern?” begins instead with a list and a slide show. The list calls out all hundred and eleven items in the show, chosen by the curators Paola Antonelli and Michelle Millar Fisher for their archetypal qualities. When Antonelli travelled to India and Bangladesh, for example, she asked people, “What is the stereotypical sari? The one that you think of when you close your eyes?” The slide show is a compendium of photos and images the curatorial team drew from social media, showing tracksuits, power suits, Union suits, and bathing suits in their natural settings, out there in our world. “The moment you see a list, you want to make your own,” Antonelli told me. “We want you to say, ‘This exhibition is about me.’ ”

She’s right. My list centers not on the objects of fantasy—Jane Birkin’s Birkin bag, red-soled Louboutin stilettos, Issey Miyake’s D.I.Y. A-POC dress—but on the Items that I have owned, most of which cost less than a hundred dollars.