Why Fashion Exhibits Are Taking Over The Art World

by Marc Cuenco

It seems the Picassos, Van Goghs, and Warhols at museums all over the world are about to make room for the works of McQueen, Prada, and de la Renta. According to a report by Artnet, fashion exhibitions are now more popular than art exhibits. Thanks to the Met's Constume Institute tributes to legendary designers such as Alexander McQueen, Elsa Schiaparelli, and Charles James, fashion exhibitions are becoming the blockbuster success stories of the art world.

According to fashion historian Dr. Valerie Steele, director of the Museum at the Fashion Institute of Technology, exhibits like "Alexander McQueen: Savage Beauty" are selling tickets simply because the public finds them more interesting and has an immediate connection to the clothing on display, avant-garde or not.

“I think the basic reason why the public really loves fashion exhibitions is that they are much easier than an art exhibition," Steele said. "Everybody feels capable of having an opinion about fashion." The McQueen exhibit, which debuted at the Met in 2011 and recently ended an equally successful run at London's Victoria and Albert Museum, sold a combined 1,154, 552 tickets. Meanwhile, the Met's most recent offering "China: Through the Looking Glass" drew more than 500,000 visitors and has been extended to September 7.

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While the A-list attendance at the annual Met gala has brought much attention to fashion exhibitions more than art openings in recent years, experts like Claire Wilcox, Senior Fashion Curator of the Victoria and Albert museum, agree that museum-goers are flocking to these sartorial exhibits because they see clothing as having as much cultural significance as works of art.

“Fashion is a mirror of our times, and it is therefore interesting to study, collect and display," Wilcox said. If you missed out on the McQueen or any of the other blockbuster fashion exhibits, make sure to check your local museum's schedule for their upcoming events. Here are three upcoming exhibitions happening in the months ahead:

The White Shirt According To Me, Gianfranco Ferre

November 4, 2015 - January 18, 2016 at the Phoenix Museum (Phoenix, AZ)

Iris van Herpen: Transforming Fashion

November 7, 2015 - May 15, 2016 at the High Museum of Art (Atlanta, GA)

Reigning Men: Fashion in Menswear 1715-2015

January 2016 at LACMA (Los Angeles, CA)

Images: fondazionegianfrancoferre, irisvanherpen, cameronsilver/Instagram (3)