Impact: Fifty Years of the CFDA

Impact: Fifty Years of the CFDA


On view at The Museum at FIT
February 10 – April 20, 2012

The Museum at the Fashion Institute of Technology (MFIT) presents Impact: Fifty Years of the CFDA, the first museum exhibition to celebrate the Council of Fashion Designers of America, the leading fashion trade organization in the United States. Approximately 100 garments and accessories designed by the CFDA’s most impactful creators of the last fifty years will be on view from February 10 through April 20, 2012. Also included in the exhibition will be visual images and acknowledgement of the nearly 600 designers who have been members over the last five decades. Each living designer selected to participate in the exhibition will select a single object or ensemble that best represents his or her impact on the fashion world. Work by historical CFDA members will be selected by exhibition curators, Patricia Mears, deputy director of The Museum at FIT, and Fred Dennis, the museum’s senior curator. Impact: Fifty Years of the CFDA is a collaborative partnership between the Museum at FIT and the CFDA.

Conceived by CFDA President Diane von Furstenberg, Impact will be an ode to the illustrious designs of the CFDA’s many members and will mark the organization’s fiftieth anniversary in 2012.

Among the designers included in the exhibition will be Halston, Norman Norell, Pauline Trigère, Geoffrey Beene, Bill Blass, Rudi Gernreich, Bob Mackie, James Galanos, Diane von Furstenberg, Oscar de la Renta, Marc Jacobs, Donna Karan, Ralph Lauren, Calvin Klein, Tom Ford, Michael Kors, Isabel Toledo, Rodarte, and Proenza Schouler.
The exhibition will be organized thematically to illuminate the broad spectrum of American creativity, from functional sportswear to couture-quality evening wear.

Founded in 1962 by publicist Eleanor Lambert and fifty of America’s leading fashion designers, the CFDA’s primary mandate was the recognition and promotion of fashion design talent based in the United States. Over the next five decades, as CFDA membership swelled to more than 400, its professional and philanthropic activities, outreach, and influence expanded exponentially. Today, in an era dominated by the designer label, it is perhaps difficult to comprehend how seminal a role the CFDA played in creating the platform for the recognition of individual creative talents in New York City, the nexus of global fashion.

“American designers have always had impact on how people dress,” said von Furstenberg. “In honor of that creativity and in celebration of the CFDA’s 50th anniversary, we are proud to present, in partnership with The Museum at FIT, an exhibit that represents the tremendous work of our members for the last five decades. ‘Impact’ was the one word that came to mind immediately – it is so strong and defining of our individual and collective influence that we knew right away that our exhibit would be called Impact: 50 Years of the CFDA.”

“The Museum at FIT is extremely pleased to be collaborating with Diane von Furstenberg and the CFDA on the exhibition Impact,” said Valerie Steele, director of The Museum at FIT. “Exhibition curator, Patricia Mears, is an authority on American fashion both past and present, and I’m sure our visitors will love to see which of their creations today’s designers have selected.”

A publication also entitled Impact, produced by the CFDA and published by Harry N. Abrams, will be the visually rich companion book to the exhibition. With more than 500 photographs, the book will document the evolution of the CFDA, from its birth in 1962, its early promotional efforts, and its strong ties to the arts, to the growth of its educational programs, its support of worthy causes, its own awards ceremony, its stewardship of fashion week, and its support of designers. Contributors include Diane von Furstenberg; Cathy Horyn, fashion journalist for The New York Times; and Patricia Mears.