If you find yourself in New York before the end of the year, make time to see this exceptional exhibit at The Museum at FIT. You won’t be disappointed, and your iPhone battery will surely be drained. Not just for fashion folk, this exhibition is inspirational, erotic, and outlandish in all the best ways.
On par with the limitless creativity displayed at the recent Jean Paul Gaultier and Alexander McQueen exhibits, Fashion Underground: The World of Susanne Bartsch, is a journey into another dimension. During the heyday of the New York City club scene, Bartsch was a muse, a collaborator, and a creator. She discovered and connected new talent, many of them well-known names in the fashion world today, such as John Galliano and Stephen Jones.
Born in Switzerland and living in London for nearly a decade, Bartsch was a passionate advocate of English fashion. Making her way to New York City, Bartsch opened her influential Soho boutique in 1981. She showcased emerging talent from English designers that were little known on this side of the pond. Her personal form of dress – extravagant, with a penchant for theatricality – left a lasting impression on the fashion world. “Style is about expressing yourself,” says Bartsch. “You can be whatever you want to be—a silver-screen star, a Marie Antoinette baroque creature, a Victorian punk. I love that about fashion and makeup.”
She hosted her first party in 1986 at Club Savage, just a few blocks from her residence at the Chelsea Hotel. Likening her personal style and that of her friends to performance art, the parties were a place to see and be seen. Her parties were known for an eclectic mix of individuals; downtown and up, gay and straight, famous and unknown. The exhibition speaks to these wild occasions, her lavish boutiques, and well-known fashion friends.
The exhibit is arranged in three sections, highlighting Bartsch’s contributions over the last 30 years to the world of fashion and sartorial excess. The first section begins with highlights of the 1980s British fashion she brought to New York, followed by the spectacular creations that Bartsch and her friends have worn for a variety of her parties, fundrasiers, and events. The final section captures Bartsch’s Chelsea Hotel apartment, the epicenter of her creativity. And the clothes, they speak for themselves.
Fashion Underground: The World of Susanne Bartsch runs through December 5th, 2015 at The Museum at FIT, located at 227 West 27th Street, New York, NY 10001. If you will not be in New York any time soon, you’re still in luck as there is a stellar online experience of the exhibit through the museum’s website.