New York, NY - From December 4, 2005 - April 2, 2006, Yeshiva University Museum (YUM) in Chelsea will present A Perfect Fit: The Garment Industry and American Jewry 1860-1960. By exploring such themes as technology, industry, labor, immigration, Jewish
and popular culture, this groundbreaking exhibition traces the early thread of 19th century Jewish immigrants seeking success in America interlaced with one hundred years of fashion from 1860-1960.
Paying homage to stellar household names like Levi Strauss, Hickey-Freeman, Hart, Schaffner & Marx, Nettie Rosenstein, Adrian, Hattie Carnegie, Bloomingdales, Leslie Fay, Anne Klein, Cole of California and countless others, this interdisciplinary exhibition tracks the development and growth of the garment industry side-by-side with the development of a nation. From the early and urgent need to clothe a nation at war in the 1860’s to the post- WWII era of American suburban life, A Perfect Fit documents this history through an exhibition, public programming, and an .htmlaccompanying catalogue.
The very fabric of American culture cannot be fully understood without an appreciation of the garment industry. To understand the “rag” trade, we must appreciate the role the American Jew has played in designing, altering and literally stitching together the whole business.
German and Central European Jewish immigrants to America around the mid 19th century arrived on the scene with relevant business experience and skills just as garment production was passing from a proto-industrial phase to a more advanced stage of manufacture. In the early twentieth-century a largely Eastern European immigrant workforce powered the garment trades. Writing in 1917, Abraham Cahan credited these immigrants with the creation of American style:
“Foreigners ourselves, and mostly unable to speak English, we had Americanized the system of providing clothes for the American woman of moderate or humble means. . . The average American woman is the best-dressed woman in the world, and the Russian Jew has had a good deal to do with making her one.”
Through historic costumes and accessories, industrial equipment, tailor supplies, department store archives, film, photographs and documents, the exhibition, sponsored, in part, by the National Endowment for Humanities, draws on multidisciplinary resources and creates a visually stimulating and engaging visitor experience, touching on such themes as 1860 America: An Expanding Nation; Dressing Men/ Dressing Women; A Tale of Six Cities: Urban Garment Centers; Eastern European Immigrants; Surging Forward: Manufacturing American Style; West Coast Fashion; Clothing a Nation at War; Clothing Everyone; Fashioning Community.
A color catalogue will accompany this exhibition and will embody the glamour and beauty of American fashion as well as the industrial forces driving the story of garment manufacture.
A wide array of public programs, targeting a broad and multiage audience, will be offered in conjunction with the exhibition. Planned programs include:
· Walking Tours of the Garment District - A former garment industry worker, now a professional tour guide, leads us on a colorful tour of the front doors and back rooms of New York’s fashion industry.
· Film series highlighting feature films and documentaries about the era.
· All in a Days Work: Sharing Stories of the Garment Industry - brings in designers, fabric cutters, seamstresses, tailors and retailers to give narratives of their personal experiences in the industry.
· Readings and Reviews, a series bringing in contemporary authors who bring different perspectives of the immigrant experience in the garment industry.
· Walking tours and showroom tours in the garment district are also planned.
· Demonstrations and studio workshops will illustrate pattern making/sewing and printing, painting, drawing on surface treatments allowing visitors to embellish fabric.
About Yeshiva University Museum
The Yeshiva University Museum, founded in 1973, is dedicated to celebrating the culturally diverse, intellectual and artistic achievements of over 3,000 years of Jewish experience. In 2000, Yeshiva University Museum moved to the Center for Jewish History, 15 West 16th Street, New York City, where it occupies four spacious galleries, hosting changing contemporary art and historical exhibits, a children's workshop center, and an outdoor sculpture garden. Call 212-294-8330 or visit us online at .htmlwww.yumuseum.org for more information.