Cooper Hewitt exhibition “A Dark, A Light, A Bright: The Designs of Dorothy Liebes" (Photo: Elliot Goldstein)
Special Note: Please know this tour departs at 8 a.m. on Friday, February 2 and returns at 10:30 p.m. on Saturday, February 3, 2024.
Splendid style is on the Manhattan itinerary when you take in fashion-focused exhibitions at the Cooper Hewitt, Smithsonian Design Museum; Museum at the Fashion Institute of Technology; and the Met’s Costume Institute, led by design historian Elizabeth Lay Little.
Curators of the Cooper Hewitt exhibition “A Dark, A Light, A Bright: The Designs of Dorothy Liebes” guide the group on the exhibition’s final weekend on display. Liebes was one of the most influential textile designers of the mid-20th century. Her luxurious handwoven fabrics combined vivid color, lush textures, unexpected materials, and a glint of metallic—a style that grew so prevalent it became known as the Liebes Look. She shaped American tastes in areas from interiors and transportation to industrial design, fashion, and film. Collaborators included Frank Lloyd Wright, Henry Dreyfuss, Donald Deskey, Raymond Loewy, and Samuel Marx. Fashion designers Pauline Trigère, Adrian, and Bonnie Cashin used her fabrics. The exhibition features more than 175 works that reveal the scope of her achievements.
On Saturday morning, begin your day with a visit to the Museum at the Fashion Institute of Technology. With a permanent collection encompassing some 50,000 garments and accessories from the 18th century to the present, the Museum at FIT is the perfect place to immerse yourself in the history of fashion and its directions in the future. Statement sleeves are the focus of their namesake exhibition, with more than 60 styles on display. Featured pieces emphasize how sleeves can define a look and show how designers have reinterpreted and remixed sleeves through variations in material, shape, embellishment, and functionality.
Conclude the day at the Met with a special guided tour looking at fashion through the ages and what garments reveal to us about the cultures that created them. Explore clothing represented in paint, stone, wood, and other media found across the museum’s collections. Afterward, visit the Met’s Costume Institute to view the exhibition “Women Dressing Women” and explore the creativity and artistic legacy of female fashion designers from the turn of the 20th century to the present day. Get an intimate look at the work of over 70 womenswear designers, including French haute couture from houses such as Jeanne Lanvin, Elsa Schiaparelli, and Madeleine Vionnet; pieces from American makers like Ann Lowe, Claire McCardell, and Isabel Toledo; and contemporary designs by Iris van Herpen, Rei Kawakubo, Anifa Mvuemba, and Simone Rocha. Free time for further exploration of the Met’s collections is available.
Even the tour’s hotel has style: Participants stay at the historic Refinery Hotel, located in the former Colony Arcade building in Midtown Manhattan’s Garment District, which housed hatmakers and furriers on the upper floors during the early 20th century.
Little is a retired decorative arts historian specializing in 20th-century design. She was the curator for Montgomery History and an adjunct professor for George Washington University’s decorative arts and design history master’s degree program.
Know Before You Go
- Cost includes bus transportation, lodging, all activities, and the following meals: Friday lunch, Saturday breakfast, and Saturday dinner.
- Overnight accommodations are at the historic Refinery Hotel, located in the former Colony Arcade building in Midtown Manhattan’s Garment District.
- Tour departs by bus from the Mayflower Hotel, Connecticut Ave. and DeSales St., NW., with a pickup stop at I-495 exit 27 carpool lot at about 8:25 a.m.
- Single-room supplement $120 (factored into the Single Room Member and Single Room Non-Member pricing).
- Singles registering at the double-room rate are paired (on a nonsmoking basis) if possible, but must pay the single-room supplement otherwise.
- Detailed information is emailed to registrants about four weeks prior to departure.
- Participants are advised to purchase travel insurance for overnight and multi-day tours from a provider of your choice. Travel insurance provides additional coverage against unforeseen incidents that require last-minute cancellations.
- Registration for this tour will end by 2 p.m. ET on Thursday, February 1, 2024.
- The tour departs by motorcoach from downtown Washington, DC with a designated secondary pick-up outside the city. Content delivered by the study leader on the way to the destination, after the secondary pick-up, is an integral part of the study tour experience. Meeting the group once the tour is en route is discouraged.
- Smithsonian is a mask-friendly environment. Masks are strongly recommended to be worn on buses at all times and may also be required at various indoor sites.
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