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Front Row: Chinese American Designers and Shanghai Glamour: New Women 1910s-40s

The Museum of Chinese in America (MOCA) will open a new season of exhibits on Chinese fashion.

January 1, 1999 12:00am

Participating fashion designers include: Thomas Chen, David Chu, Melinda Eng, Jade Lai, Derek Lam, Wayne Lee, Humberto Leon and Carol Lim, Phillip Lim, Mary Ping, Peter Som, Anna Sui, Vivienne Tam, Yeohlee Teng, Zang Toi, Vera Wang, and Jason Wu. 


Press Preview: Wednesday, April 24, 9:30 a.m. - 11:00 a.m


Front Row: Chinese American Designers

Front Row celebrates the achievements of New York's Chinese American fashion designers since their emergence in the 1980s, just as the city was transforming its identity from a garment center into a major fashion capital. This exhibition features the diverse aesthetics of 17 designers, showcasing iconic examples of each designer's work. Front Row will also include videos interviews with the designers that draw upon personal reflections about their artistic visions and entrepreneurial paths. Front Row is guest-curated by designer Mary Ping for MOCA.

"The exhibition explores the ascent of Chinese American designers who have shaped what we now understand as not only New York fashion, but overall, a new American sense of style," said Mary Ping, curator of Front Row.

The exhibition is made possible in part by Central Textiles (HK) Ltd.

Shanghai Glamour: New Women 1910s-40s

Shanghai Glamour explores the unique allure of early 20th century Shanghai as represented by women and their fashionable dress. The exhibition features stunning outfits ingeniously tailored for ladies who initiated styles to match their cosmopolitan lifestyle in the legendary East-meets-West metropolis. Highlights of the exhibition include 12 exquisite outfits from 1910s to 1940s on loan from the China National Silk Museum in Hangzhou - on view for the first time in the United States - and three dresses from prominent private New York collections. They will be presented alongside over 50 period accessories, photos, and lifestyle magazines. Shanghai Glamour is guest-curated by scholar Mei Mei Rado for MOCA.

"Shanghai Glamour presents a fresh, alternative perspective to the iconic qipao by showcasing the actual diversity of modern dress styles embodying Shanghai's cultural hybridity and cosmopolitanism. This exhibition offers a revealing take on the connection between fashion, modern femininity, and Shanghai," said Mei Mei Rado, curator of Shanghai Glamour.

The exhibition will unfold thematically in three sections.

Femmes Fatales features dress styles that are the embodiment of glamour and danger, associated with the image of a seductress captured in popular imagination and inspired by courtesans, dancing girls, and movie stars who were fashion icons in that era.

Femmes Savantes encompasses various groups of educated and sophisticated urban ladies, ranging from students and socialites to female writers and artists. Their social agency and cosmopolitanism were articulated in their sartorial inventiveness and diversity. The "athletic women" emerged during the mid-1930s and represented a new ideal of feminine beauty directly responding to a pressing nationalist agenda.

Femmes du Monde showcases the enchanting spirit of the city's modernity and inexhaustible energy for artistic and cultural inventions, channeled through women's fashion flair. The fashion styles encapsulated many facets of the cosmopolitan city, including its various appearances and representations of vanity, decadence, and deception.

Shanghai Glamour is organized by the Museum of Chinese in America and the China National Silk Museum in Hangzhou.

Both exhibitions will be accompanied by a fully illustrated catalogue, available in the Museum's shop.

Between late January and September, a robust line-up of events, public programs, gallery talks, tours, and educational workshops will provide behind-the-scenes insight into the world of fashion. The line-up includes: Shanghai Decadence: Event of the Sensory which features a food tasting session and a guided textile tour; a series of panel discussions with designers from Front Row and industry talks such as Female, Fashionable, New York, Fashion Book Club, and The Edge of Fashion. The first panel discussion Female, Fashionable, New York will be launched at MOCA on January 24. It will feature a conversation between four fashion veterans including: Mary Ping, Cynthia Leung, Jade Lai and Christina Moon.

During the run of the exhibitions, MOCA will offer three special weekend workshops for families: Color, Pattern, Texture, Textiles in May, On the Dotted Line: Design and Drawing in July, and Hand Made By __. in September. Programs for teens such as Fashion Your Future and DIY Days provide opportunities for youth to engage with fashion insiders and participate in an accessory-making workshop. There will be Garment District tours and private group tours of the exhibitions. A complete program schedule is available on the Museum's website.

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