Fashion Insiders Attend FIT Exhibition ‘Impact: Fifty Years of the CFDA’ Preview

Diane von Furstenberg and Reed Krakoff
Photo: Patrick McMullan
Diane von Furstenberg and Reed Krakoff.

Boiling down the essence of 50 years of American fashion sounds like a daunting task, but for FIT curator Patricia Mears, it was like having a birthday every day.

Mears, who curated “Impact: Fifty Years of the CFDA,” (opening Friday at the Museum at Fashion Institute of Technology) reveled in the process of receiving submissions from several hundred of CFDA members. “In a certain way, you can identify the designers’ hallmark, but we didn’t know the specifics,” she told FashionEtc, and that was the challenge.

“For instance, Calvin Klein sent a simple white slip dress, but it could have been jeans, it could have been underwear, it could have been anything. For us, the process was seeing where they all fit. We’re showing the spectrum of American fashion and the diversity.”

Mears was joined by about 20 members of the CFDA, including president Diane von Furstenberg, CEO Steven Kolb and other members of the fashion community to preview the exhibit Thursday morning.

The name “Impact” evolved out of many conversations between Kolb and von Furstenberg, she said. “When we started talking about the 50th anniversary, the first idea I had was that American fashion is impactful,” von Furstenberg said. “For me growing up in Belgium, an Impact sounds like an American car from the late 1950s that illustrated the American dream. Design and pragmatism blend to get you onto the highway of success,” something she added, that parallels successful fashion.

For Reed Krakoff, who designs for both Coach and his namesake collection, choosing what to submit was “really hard. There are so many things that are iconic for so many different reasons. Simple but striking—it’s hard to come up with those pieces that illustrate what you’re trying to say,” he told FashionEtc.

For some the exhibit was inspirational. Examining her caftan on display, Tory Burch said “I love this one and will bring it back someday.”

An easy submission was Donna Karan’s signature seven easy pieces. “What else could I have possibly had?” she told FashionEtc. “New York was acknowledging how easy it was to wear a body suit, a skirt and a scarf and go from day into evening.” The exhibit overall gave her something to think about. “I’m shocked how much the collection looks like what I’m going to show next week. Uh-oh. I kind of get scared when I see that.”

Impact: Fifty Years of the CFDA on view at the Museum at FIT from February 10 through April 17, 2012.