Fashion. Feminism. Forgotten.


American Woman: Fashioning a National Identity

May 5 – August 15
Metropolitan Museum
Fifth Ave. at 82nd St., New York, N.Y.


The exhibit, opening today, explores developing views of the modern American woman from the 50-year period of 1890 to 1940 and how they shaped the way people see American women today. It focuses on the types of American femininity that mirrored women’s social, political and sexual emancipation.

Organized around six American “identities”—the heiress, the Gibson Girl, the bohemian, the suffragette and the patriot, the flapper, and the screen siren, there is, ironically, one striking omission — the working-class girl, the one who has fought for her place in the social strata rather than inheriting or marrying it.

Which are you?


UPDATE: Just learned that my fellow blogger, Bart Boehlert, of BB’s Beautiful Things, took viewers on a tour of the exhibit that you won’t want to miss. He even managed to snatch a few moments with famed editor, Anna Wintour. See it here.


J. C. Leyendecker (American, 1874–1951)
Courtesy Archives of American Illustrators Gallery NYC and National Museum of American Illustration, Newport RI
Cover for Collier’s magazine, 1907 Oil on canvas




~ by eaesthete on 05/05/10.

9 Responses to “Fashion. Feminism. Forgotten.”

  1. Sounds like a great exhibition thank you for posting Jen

  2. Working class and proud!

  3. Not glamorous enough? Assuming that the major thrust of the exhibit is identity as fashion is concerned, it is ironic when you consider that many women today pay attention to their “look” only for the office/workplace. This said, it’s not so inspiring to image yourself in the perfect working girl mold. Well maybe as a star of Woman of the Year or His Girl Friday….

    • le style,

      A point well taken. And yes, most definitely, the fashion of the workplace should be portrayed in this exhibit. Interestingly, I watched “The September Issue” last night and noted the fashion icon herself, Anna Wintour, who has a distinctive look as she commandeers her way through the halls of Vogue.

  4. A wonderful observation by le style(no surprise there). While watching the Sept Issue-I was equally surprised by the stylists and editors-which were for lack of a better phrase- fashionably styleless. pgt

    (always have loved those Gibson Girls)

    • I was astonished by the sytlessness of most of the staff in The September Issue. Could it be intimidating to try to compete with all the perfection they create for the magazine?

  5. At first I was too-then I figured what an effort -EVERY DAY, what a constant drag on creativity it would be, plus that is hard work they do. pgt

  6. Kelly Girl. But it was a long time ago.

    • Dearest E,

      You are a man of multiple skill and enterprise. I never knew you did a turn as a Kelly Girl. So forward thinking of you to be on the front lines in breaking the barriers of feminism. You are, unquestionably, the Renaissance Man in all his permutations.

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