The Couture Council is a membership group dedicated to supporting the specialized museum of fashion at the Fashion Institute of Technology. The Council helps to make it possible for the museum to mount world-class exhibitions of fashion, to acquire important objects for its permanent collection, and to organize public programs.

These goals are accomplished through collecting membership dues and by organizing fundraising events such as the annual Couture Council Awards Luncheon. I attended the Council-sponsored tour of the museum’s Impact: 50 Years of the CFDA exhibition followed by a luncheon at the Americano Restaurant.

Diane von Furstenberg is the person who decided to name the show “Impact.” This word is appropriate in that walking into a room filled with clothes created by great designers makes viewers breathless. Since the curator decided that there was no way to group individual designers, the mannequins were randomly attached to the walls. Designers who exude individuality cannot be categorized! I liked this free-form approach.

While I was waiting in the museum lobby for the tour to begin, I had a chance to chat with the fabulous Fabiola Arias, a talented young designer.  She was wearing her own creation, an eye catching black and white knee length dress made of silk organza. I intuitively felt that she has a great career ahead of her.

When Norma Kamali was asked to provide a specific chronological framework for her contribution to the show, her answer was that it was “timeless.”  Her response is another indication that lack of organization was certainly the curatorial way to go.

Isabel Toledo and Narcisco Rodriguez both chose to contribute black and red pieces. This choice lent a color continuity to the show. I was particularly excited to see the Toledo dress because it is a version of the one Michelle Obama so famously wore.

The most awesome aspect of the entire awesome show was that Mary McFadden and Nicole Miller were present! McFadden was standing in front of me wearing a version of the dress which was on display. Miller wore a tight fitting black dress.

My favorite outfit on display was a 1992 Bob Mackie black plunging neckline sequined gown adorned with a bright red bolero sequined jacket. I could just see Cher decked out in this creation. Of course what is right for Cher would not be right for me. While looking at the walls trying to discern what I could really wear in my real life, I was drawn to a 2011 Michael Kors plain beige sweater, thick brown leather belt, and gold lame pants.


What for me constitutes adventure ensued when I was whisked into a town car to transport me to destination unknown (which turned out to be the lovely Americano Restaurant). Upon arrival, I was treated to beautifully appointed place settings accented with name cards.

I must admit that I was fervently hoping not to be seated next to either Mary or Nicole—because, well, lunching with famous designers is honestly a tad too much outside of my usual purview. Luckily I was seated with fashion scholar Valerie Steele—and
scholarship is something that I most certainly know from! So I had a stupendous lunch experience chatting with Valerie and a table full of very wealthy—and also very nice–women

With those very small sized designer clothes in mind, I decided to skip the desert!

– Marleen Barr

Photos via Jonathan Marder + Company and the Museum at FIT