FIT Unzips the Story Behind the Moto Jacket-------
“We had to start with the basics,” explained FIT graduate student and curator Kristen Haggerty. She’s talking about the origins of the university’s just-launched exhibition, Beyond Rebellion: Fashioning the Biker Jacket, a study of the motorcycle jacket’s evolution from a utilitarian Schott Bros. basic, to a symbol of post-WWII rebellion, to the modern-day fashion staple. “The first Perfecto was made in 1928 and was sold by Harley-Davidson—it’s really what everyone thinks of when they think of a biker jacket,” said Haggerty, gesturing to a 1980 replica of the late twenties belted classic with an exposed zipper. “Yes, it’s a very stylish garment, but every one of those elements means something.”
The show, which opens with an in-depth examination of the iconic Perfecto, combines documentary photography, press clippings, and a tightly curated collection of original pieces to shed light on the now 80-some-year history of the moto. Wares by Helmut Lang, Rick Owens, and a particularly memorable tutu moto jacket from Comme des Garçons’ Spring 2005 outing display the many ways in which fashion designers have appropriated and interpreted the garment. “Over the years, the Perfecto became something much more than a utilitarian biker jacket,” Haggerty told Style.com. “There were times when it was pretty subversive. Modern designers [have also] really gone above and beyond. It’s a garment that can exist in two different places at the same time, and have meaning for both of them.” All one needs to do is browse a rack at Versace, Chloé, Balmain, or Saint Laurent to see what she’s talking about. The exhibition, however, will help you understand and, dare we say, appreciate it.
Beyond Rebellion will be on view at The Museum at FIT, Tuesdays through Fridays, through April 5.