Monthly Archive for: ‘April, 2019’

“Gender Bending Fashion” at the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston

“Gender Bending Fashion” at the  Museum of Fine Arts, Boston

Carol Benet

A fascinating exhibit, “Gender Bending Fashion”, is currently on display at at the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston.  Curated by Michelle Tolini Finamore, it runs through August 25, 2019.

With a bow to the great designers and transgenderers from the time of Marlene Dietrich in the 1930s, David Bowie in the 70s and onward, this show demonstrates that cross-dressing is nothing new.  It even shows cultures, like Scotland or India, where men have always worn skirts.

Starting with a video of a fashion show featuring actress Tilda Swinton modeling a black pants’ suit with a multi-layeed collar of mute colors fanning out from a traditional men’s shirt, the genders are trans-ed here. The graceful collar signals femininity and the stark black suit masculinity.

Women in pants?  Nothing new.  Harlem Renaissance lesbian Gladys Bentley always wore them in her blues performances of the 40s when she wore a white tuxedo and top hat.  Marlene Dietrich had her pants outfits but the reverse is on display as well with men wearing skirts in different cultures. A graceful multilayered train comes down from a traditional black tuxedo jacket by Allessandro Tincone.  I actually just saw one of these gorgeous outfits on an actor who attended the Bar Area Critics’ Awards Gala at the Victoria Theatre March 17.

Other transgendered tuxedos are by high fashion designer Yohji Yamamoto’s.with pants/skirts leaving the models undefinable as to their sexual orientation.  And men in stilettos?  Sure in Alexandre Mason Sharma’s creation where the male model wears them,  although why would anyone male or female want to torture themselves in this way?

The exhibit is beautiful.  It should come to San Francisco where our Fine Arts Museums love to do fashion exhibits andit would have an appreciative audience for “Gender Bending Fashion”.

But for now, visit Boston and see this thought provoking show throughout the summer at the Fine Arts Museum of Boston.

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