MFA Boston Dissects the Coded Language of Gender-Bending Fashion

Gender-Bending Fashion at the Museum of Fine Arts (MFA), Boston sets out to emphasise that well before Generation Z mainstreamed gender disruption, there was already an extensive history of designers, celebrities and social activists consciously embracing gender fluidity through provocative and often sumptuous sartorial choices.

Just inside, viewers are given a definition of gender-bending and wall texts offering a crash course on relevant terms such as agender, gender queer and transsexual. The show’s curator, Michelle Tolini Finamore, clearly intends for these scholarly frameworks to add weight to the fun that lies beyond when, stepping into a long rectangular gallery, you feel as though you are both at and in an elite haute couture show, sashaying down the runway to anthems like Lady Gaga’s “Born This Way”.

Jet black walls provide backdrops for skinny mannequins posing on podiums backlit in triangles of neon light and plexiglass. The exhibition design succeeds in making the show immersive but also risks trivializing its content, which thoroughly examines how controversial clothing choices (such as 20th-century women daring to “cross dress” in pants and breaking the law at times to do so), have played out amid shifts in how Western society regards gender and sexuality, patriarchy and power. Read More…


Image Credit: Courtesy of the MFA, Boston/Michael Blanchard


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