Long before Millennials co-opted the color, pink the hue has had a rich history since the beginning of fashion. Coinciding with Fashion Week, The Museum at F.I.T. has rolled out its latest exhibit, Pink: The History of a Punk, Pretty, Powerful Color.
Organized by the museum’s director and chief curator, Dr. Valerie Steele. Pink features 80 ensembles from the 18th century to the present. Items from Elsa Schiaparelli, Christian Dior, Yves Saint Laurent, Alessandro Michele of Gucci, Jeremy Scott of Moschino, and Rei Kawakubo of Comme des Garçons show pink in a variety of fashion approaches.
The show also puts pink in a global context, exploring how both Western and non-Western cultures use the shade. In India, for example, pink has long been worn by both men and women, while in Mexico the color Rosa Mexicano is associated with national identity. Diana Vreeland famously said “Pink is the navy blue of India,” while Schiaparelli associated Shocking Pink with Asia and Latin America.
While pink was a highly fashionable unisex color in 18th-century Europe, but it became coded as a “feminine” color in the 19th and 20th century.
The show expands audience perspectives on pink and shows how contemporary designers are increasingly challenging traditional ideas about sweet, pink femininity. Rei Kawakubo, the radical designer behind Comme des Garçons, has been especially influential with collections ranging from “Biker/Ballerina” to “18th-Century Punk.” Even the house of Valentino has produced T-shirts asserting that “Pink Is Punk.”
Pink can also be rebellious. From political protests (pink “pussy hats”) to punk, pink often challenges conventional norms.
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