Fashion statements

Boca exhibit celebrates 50 years of fashion

The trade organization CFDA – it just doesn't sound sexy, does it?

Aaaah, but what if you knew the initials stood for the Council of Fashion Designers of America, and that it is the star chamber behind fashion week in New York? Yes, the legendary tents where celebs preen and pose for paparazzi and uber-models work the runway in catwalk capers.

Members include bold-faced names such as Donna Karan, Oscar de la Renta, Zac Posen, Carolina Herrera, Michael Kors, Alexander Wang, Thom Browne, Vera Wang and Norma Kamali -- all of them represented in a new exhibit titled "IMPACT: 50 Years of the CFDA" on view at the Boca Raton Museum of Art from Jan. 29 through April 21.

In addition to the actual garments and accessories, the exhibit will feature interactive touch screen displays that illustrate a timeline of American fashion with illustrations from the nearly 600 designers who make up the CFDA.

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We interviewed Steven Kolb, the chief executive officer of CFDA about the exhibit via email:

Q: What do you hope is the take-away of the exhibit?

A: American fashion is a diverse family of designers. There is a great range of innovation and creativity among the CFDA members in the show and to see the work up close in this context is a message that fashion design is more than commerce. It is a craft, too. 

Q: Has the age of the celebrity in any way diluted the impact of career fashion designers?

A: Actually the opposite. Fashion has received pop culture status with more and more people wanting to be designers. Celebrity can only take you so far in fashion. Without a true commitment or talent you will not make it. 

Q: Are fashion weeks still a viable way to disseminate information for a designer in the 21st century?

A: Fashion week is a trade event. While it has become more open to the public it remains a business. There is no doubt that technology has brought new ways to show collections and opened fashion week to a wider audience but I don't see the industry moving away from live shows anytime soon. 

Q: In the last two decades, the flow of fashion has changed from the designer down to the street, to the street up to the designer. Is that reflected in the exhibit?

A: American fashion has always been influenced by the street from Betsey Johnson in the 70s to Alexander Wang today.  Both are in the show. 

Q: There has been a campaign to preserve Manhattan's Garment District. Has overseas manufacturing (globalization) lessened the impact of American designers?

A: It is a global market place. There is increased distribution and markets for American designers.  On the manufacturing front local factories are important to young designers who need proximity to production and the ability to make small amounts. Big brands like the control on quality and fit.  And there are many economic reasons that manufacturing is now shifting back to the US.

Q: American style is known worldwide for its sporty feel. But with the advent of the digital age, fashion information has been democratized. So will that message continue to resonate for American designers or will other influences creep into our Zeitgeist?

A: Sportswear will always be the heart of American fashion and whatever the source the spirit is inherent to our culture. 


"IMPACT: 50 Years of the CFDA"

When: 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. on Tuesdays; 10 a.m. to 9 p.m. on Wednesdays; 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Thursdays and Fridays; noon to 5 p.m. Saturdays and Sundays. Closed Mondays

Where: Boca Raton Museum of Art, 501 Plaza Real in Boca Raton

Cost: Adults: $15 - Seniors: $12 - Children (12 and under): Free

Students (with ID): $8

Groups (15 or more): $10

Prices valid through April 21, 2013.

Contact: 561-392-2500 or