The Tuxedo Redefined: Formality, Fluidity, and Femininity
A new exhibit on display at 80 Washington Square East Galleries explores how the tuxedo has been conceptually and formally incorporated into women's fashion.
NYU Steinhardt’s Costume Studies program presents The Tuxedo Redefined: Formality, Fluidity, and Femininity, a new exhibit on view at 80 Washington Square East, January 11—February 5. The show explores how the tuxedo, a traditionally masculine ensemble, has become conceptually and formally incorporated into women’s fashion.
80 Washington Square East's hours are Wednesday to Saturday, 12–6 p.m. For more information, please visit Tuxedo Redefined's website or @tuxedoredefined on Instagram, or email email@example.com.
Since the tuxedo was first introduced in the nineteenth century, it has evolved into the standard for men’s semi-formal attire. Transcending those origins, however, the tuxedo has become a symbol of power and transgression when incorporated into women’s wardrobes. Writing two decades after women’s fashion came to accept the pantsuit, art historian Anne Hollander noted how the tuxedo still functioned as an outlier. “A woman in a tuxedo still looks provocative, and not conventionally formal,” she writes in Sex and Suits.
The Tuxedo Redefined explores how women have appropriated the tradition of men’s black tie attire—from quotidian dress to high fashion—and the ways in which this influential garment has served as a tool for provocation that can reflect transformative notions of gender, class, and sexual identity.
The exhibit features clothing, accessories, photographs, and films that demonstrate the performative, commercial, and artistic reach of the tuxedo: A 1987 Chanel dress by Karl Lagerfeld will examine the aesthetic adaptations of womenswear, while fashion advertising and imagery for designer brands—such as Yves Saint Laurent, Gucci, and After Six—will showcase how tuxedo marketing has considered female and male consumers alike. Lastly, film clips and photographs featuring Hollywood stars, from Marlene Dietrich to Janelle Monáe, will address the crucial role that the tuxedo has played in shaping women’s identities—both on and off the screen.
The Tuxedo Redefined is co-curated by the Master’s degree candidates of NYU’s Costume Studies program: Samantha Asam, Benjamin Chait, Lara Damabi, Amanda Driggs, Michael German, H. Colton MacKay, Yaritza Martinez Pule, Ayaka Sano, and Sarah Sebetich, under the direction of Mellissa Huber, Assistant Curator at The Costume Institute at The Metropolitan Museum of Art.
Opening Reception: Saturday January 11, 5:00–7:00 p.m.
A reception celebrating the opening of The Tuxedo Redefined will be held at 80 Washington Square East in the Project Space. The event is free and open to the public.
Symposium: Sunday February 2, 11:00 a.m.–1:30 p.m.
In conjunction with the exhibit, NYU’s Costume Studies program will hold a symposium at the Einstein Auditorium (34 Stuyvesant Street). In addition to curators’ presentations on exhibition-related themes, the program will feature keynote speaker Chloe Chapin, fashion and cultural historian and PhD candidate in American Studies at Harvard University.
About NYU Costume Studies
Since 1979, NYU Steinhardt’s MA Program in Costume Studies has focused on the history of dress and textiles in its broadest aesthetic and cultural context. It was the first curriculum in the U.S. to educate specialists in this field. With a core of courses on the history of fashion and textiles, the program trains students in the research and analysis of the fascinating phenomenon of dress.
About 80 Washington Square East (@80WSE)
Founded in 1974, NYU's 80 Washington Square East is a not-for-profit gallery presenting contemporary and historical exhibitions, under the curatorial direction of Nicola Lees. Recent shows include Louise Lawler, Lutz Bacher, Dora Budor, Harun Farocki, Nina Beier and John Miller, Diamond Stingily, Patricia L. Boyd, Peter Gidal, Lyle Ashton Harris, and Duane Linklater. The gallery exhibits in two further locations, at Broadway Windows (Broadway and East 10th Street), and Washington Square Windows (next to the gallery), both on view 24/7.