Mod New York: Fashion Takes a Trip

Monacelli. Nov. 2017. 160p. ed. by Phyllis Magidson & . photos. notes. index. ISBN 9781580934985. $45. DEC ARTS
This catalog of an exhibition at the Museum of the City of New York (MCNY), edited by its curators, is comprised of eight essays taking various angles on American fashion in the 1960s to early 1970s, amply illustrated with images of garments from MCNY's collection alongside vintage photos from Vogue and Harper's Bazaar. Sarah Gordon's essay "Liberating Fashion" reminds us that miniskirts and swing dresses made garters and girdles obsolete, and also that until this era, most women wore pants for sports or leisure. Hazel Clark's "Fashioning the 1960s in New York" describes youth-centered boutiques that changed retail. Kwame S. Brathwaite writes about African American models wearing natural hairstyles and African-inspired garments in the "Black Is Beautiful" movement. The title illuminates how, appropriate to tumultuous times, 1960s fashion encompassed contrasts: secondhand clothes worn by counterculture hippies, space-age paper and plastic minidresses, loud Bohemian patterns, and Jackie Kennedy's sophisticated Paris ensembles.
VERDICT Books on 1960s dress abound in more and less scholarly titles. This accessible work stands out by contextualizing fashion alongside major social change—the Youthquake, birth control, the civil rights movement, and Vietnam War protests.
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