A Review by Jeffrey Horsley

Pink: the History of a Punk, Pretty, Powerful Color explores the colour pink and its multitude shades and cultural meanings. Organized by Dr Valerie Steele, Director, The Museum at FIT, Pink interrogates the history, materiality and cultural meanings of a colour that, as the exhibition guide points out, ‘provokes exceptionally strong feelings of both attraction and repulsion.’

Pink. Installation view. Image © Jeffrey Horsley courtesy The Museum at FIT

Arranged through the main FIT gallery spaces, the show begins with an assaultingly garish installation of toys aimed at girls and young women, highlighting the stereotype of pink as a feminine colour. The first room continues this theme and presents women’s garments in pink from the 1850s to the 1990s. Near the entrance a ruffle-tiered dress from 1857 is placed adjacent to a black and white man’s outfit, underlining the feminization of pink in the 19th century.

Pink. Installation view. Image © Jeffrey Horsley courtesy The Museum at FIT

The second room examines the meanings of pink further and demonstrates that pink has been a colour featured in men’s and women’s clothing, subcultural style and high fashion, western and world clothing, adult and children’s garments. The erotic nature of pink is explored alongside a subversive potential demonstrated by experimental ensembles and counter-cultural garments.

Pink. Installation view. Image © Jeffrey Horsley courtesy The Museum at FIT

Presented in the darkened FIT galleries, beautifully spotlight against glossy black podia and slatted black/pink walls, the visual impact of the exhibition is immediate: an almost overwhelming vista of pink in every shade and texture. It takes a while for the dazzled eye to adjust and focus on individual ensembles and groups of outfits. The exhibition’s message is clear and its encouragement to reconsider contemporary, gendered readings of pink irresistible. Beyond the cultural analysis, the monochrome focus of the show also invites the visitor to consider the garments’ materiality in depth; fabric, texture, surface, transparency, grain, weave, decorative technique all appear amplified.

Pink. Installation view. Image © Jeffrey Horsley courtesy The Museum at FIT

Pink. Installation view. Image © Jeffrey Horsley courtesy The Museum at FIT

Pink. Installation view. Image © Jeffrey Horsley courtesy The Museum at FIT

Pink. Installation view. Image © Jeffrey Horsley courtesy The Museum at FIT

Pink. Installation view. Image © Jeffrey Horsley courtesy The Museum at FIT

Pink. Detail of pink satin bow on Yves Saint Laurent evening dress. Image © Jeffrey Horsley courtesy The Museum at FIT