Beyond Rebellion: Fashioning the Biker Jacket exhibition at FIT

Beyond Rebellion: Fashioning the Biker Jacket explores the genesis and evolution of the biker jacket. The exhibition is organized by graduated students of The Fashion Institute of Technology (FIT). Tracing the passage from ‘utilitarian outerwear to iconic symbol of rebellion, function, and “cool” . ‘

Beyond Rebellion: Fashioning the Biker Jacket exhibition

Beyond Rebellion: Fashioning the Biker Jacket exhibition
© 2013 The Museum at FIT
Photo by Eileen Costa

According to the students researches  : “The biker jacket emerged in the early twentieth century as a protective garment to shield motorcycle riders from the elements. Over the years, the mystique of the motorcycle jacket has attracted not only bikers, but also movie stars, young adults, and fashion designers. “ Today the biker jacket occupies an important place, basic in the wardrobe of any woman or man.
The Perfecto jacket durable black leather horsehide, exposed zippers, metal snaps, and an asymmetrical front closure introduced by Irving Schott in 1928 opens the exhibition. The Perfecto’s iconic classic design influenced fashion designers like ‘ a 2009 Yves Saint Laurent jumpsuit that integrates characteristic design elements of the biker jacket, such as an asymmetrical front and exposed zippers. ‘
The second section of the exhibition is dedicated to the fashion designers that were inspired by the countercultural groups like punks and leathermen who ‘abused’ of details like ‘metal embellishments and construction that exposed or exaggerated the body’ . Such an example is a ‘high-end jacket by Jean Paul Gaultier that incorporates a metal spike on each elbow and stitching details on the shoulders that recall armor and exaggerate the size of the upper body. ‘
The exhibition ends with a section dedicated to designers that explored with avant-garde reinterpretations the classic biker jacket. As a strong examples it stays ‘a 2005 Comme des Garcons ensemble from the Biker + Ballerina collection juxtaposes a sculptural masculine black leather jacket with a girlish pink gingham and tulle skirt’.
For almost a century the biker jacket is not just a piece of clothing but also a cultural exponent and a continuous source of inspiration.
Beyond Rebellion: Fashioning the Biker Jacket exhibition

Schott Perfecto jacket
Black leather, circa 1980, USA, P89.29.1
© 2013 The Museum at FIT
Photo by Eileen Costa

Beyond Rebellion: Fashioning the Biker Jacket exhibition

Jean Paul Gaultier jacket
Black leather, faux fur, suede, and grey wool, 1987, France, gift of Anne M. Zartarian, 2000.23.10
© 2013 The Museum at FIT
Photo by Eileen Costa

Beyond Rebellion: Fashioning the Biker Jacket exhibition

© 2013 The Museum at FIT
Photo by Eileen Costa

Beyond Rebellion: Fashioning the Biker Jacket exhibition

Comme des Garçons (Rei Kawakubo) jacket and skirt
Black leather, pink gingham and tulle, spring 2005, Japan, 2005.49.1
© 2013 The Museum at FIT
Photo by Eileen Costa

“Beyond Rebellion: Fashioning the Biker Jacket” is on view now through April 5 at the Museum at F.I.T., Seventh Avenue at 27th Street, New York; the Museum at F.I.T.
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