contributed by Jen Roth
On April 8th the NY Library Club visited the museum and Gladys Marcus Library at the Fashion Institute of Technology. The tour started with a talk by curator Ellen Shanley, who gave us a brief overview of fashion history, touching on how how aspects like hem lengths, silhouettes, undergarments, and shoulder pads have all changed over time. She illustrated her talk with garments from FIT’s teaching collection, including a sequined Oscar de la Renta minidress, a duplicate of a Paul Pioret “lampshade dress”, a pleated Fortuny gown carefully stored in a small box, and a women’s suit designed by Hollywood costume designer Adrian.
The tour’s next stop were the library’s special collections and archives, where Special Collections Associate April Calahan had laid out a variety of items for us to look at, including fashion sketches and old periodicals. The archives are home to all of the theses written by FIT students as well as 300 unique manuscript collections and thousands of books, periodicals, designer scrapbooks, and more. April also runs a blog called Material Mode that showcases the collections. (https://blog.fitnyc.edu/materialmode/)
The final part of the tour was a visit to the periodicals and forecast services desk in the main library. Helen Lane, Head of Research and Instruction, showed us some futures books. These are part of the library’s fashion and trend forecasting services and summarize and predict upcoming trends in color, fabrics, and designs. Use of these resources is highly restricted – they can’t leave the reading room and photographs and photocopies are prohibited. The library also subscribes to online forecasting databases in addition to the print resources.
After the tour concluded, many members of the club also took the opportunity to view the museum’s exhibitions Trend-ology and Elegance in an Age of Crisis: Fashions of the 1930s.
Bio: Jen Roth received her MLIS with a concentration in rare books and special collections from LIU Palmer in January 2011. She currently works as a collection assistant at NYU’s Courant Library