Art Institute of Chicago

In a time when retailers mass produce clothes faster than the speed of light and reality shows encourage fashion designers to dilute their designs to make them more "sellable", it's easy to forget that fashion truly is an art form. Thankfully, there are four local exhibits that will refresh our memory and reignite our appreciation for design. From Impressionism to nail art, here is the list of current exhibits for the fashion lover in you.

Fashion & The Field Museum Collection: Maria Pinto

Fashion at the Field Museum

Where: Field Museum, 1400 S. Lake Shore Drive
Ends: August 18, 2013

This exhibit, curated by Maria Pinto, showcases some of the most intriguing items from The Field Museum archives alongside the impressive work of Chicago's beloved fashion designer. Fur "hot pants" from Greenland share space with one of Pinto's looks that includes shearling pants. A perfectly tailored Alpaca suit from her Fall 2009 collection resides next to metal sleeves from Japan, demonstrating the relationship between traditional and modern day armor. Such pairings make this exhibit a fascinating history lesson on the evolution of fashion.

Impressionism, Fashion, and Modernity

Jean Béraud. A Ball, 1878. Musée d’Orsay, Paris, RF 1994 15

Where: The Art Institute of Chicago, 111 S. Michigan Avenue
Ends: September 29, 2013

We are all familiar with the 19th century art movement known as Impressionism. But are we aware of the impact that fashion had on this style of art? This exhibit seeks to provide a different perspective on the Impressionists, by revealing how fashion trends influenced artists such as Caillbotte, Monet and Seurat, who were known for capturing modern life. In addition to the art work of well-known Impressionists and fashion portraitists Jean Béraud, Carolus-Duran, Alfred Stevens, and James Tissot, expect to gawk over the period costumes, photographs, fabrics and accessories from the era that solidified Paris' top tier spot as one the fashion capitals of the world.


Museum of Contemporary Art

Where: Museum of Contemporary Art, 220 E. Chicago Avenue
Ends: October 13, 2013

With the diverse works of several contemporary artists, Homebodies explores the idea that home is an essential place for creating art. The exhibition includes paintings by Hurvin Anderson, sculptures by George Segal and Rachel Whiteread as well as photography by Barbara Kruger and Adrian Piper. Starting to wonder where the fashion aspect comes into play? Well, Chicago-based artist Dzine has an installation entitled Imperial Nail Salon (my parents' living room) where he has recreated his former living room, which was also the site of his mother's nail salon business. And you can't recreate a nail salon without nail technicians, right?

Every other Saturday, until October 13, two nail artists (including one of my favorites, Astrowifey) will set up shop to create customized nail designs for patrons. Appointments are required and most time slots are booked. But you can always stalk the site or call the box office to check for cancellations. Occasionally, walk-in appointments are also available. So, if you're in the area, definitely stop by and test your luck.

Inspiring Beauty: 50 Years of Ebony Fashion Fair

Chicago History Museum

Where: Chicago History Museum, 1601 N. Clark Street
Ends: January 5, 2014

What better way to celebrate 50 years of the world-renowned travelling fashion show, than by showcasing the most memorable designer garments that graced the runway throughout the years. After you're done feasting your eyes on the designs (some of which were exclusive to Ebony Fashion Fair) created by the likes of Oscar de la Renta, Valentino, Christian Dior and Patrick Kelly, be sure to view the audiovisual presentations that further demonstrate how Ebony Fashion Fair and Johnson Publishing Company not only made a significant impact on the African-American community, but also the world.

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