Cornell University Launches Exhibit Focused on Women’s Fashion and Empowerment

Cornell University has opened a new exhibit called “Women Empowered: Fashions From the Frontline,” which chronicles how women have strategically used fashion to empower and collectively uplift themselves.

The new exhibit is a part of the 2018 Cornell Council for the Arts Biennial. It explores the Biennial theme of “Duration: Passage, Persistence, Survival” through fashion objects and was curated by students in fiber science and apparel design program at the university.

Items on display include two decorative collars that have defined the personal style of Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg, a skirt suit worn by former U.S. Attorney General Janet Reno, and the gown College of Human Ecology co-founder Martha Van Rensselaer wore when she met with the Queen of Belgium after helping that country rebuild its libraries following the first World War.

The exhibit also features contemporary designs such as a hockey jersey signed by four Cornell women who propelled Canada to a gold medal in the 2014 Winter Olympics, a hijab by Haute Hijab creative director Gizelle Begler, and an original design by Rachel Powell that engages with the #MeToo movement.

“Fashion is a highly visible and forceful medium that commands attention and communicates possibilities,” said Denise N. Green, assistant professor of fiber science and apparel design and faculty adviser on the exhibition project. She continued, “I think fashion has often been stigmatized as frivolous and antithetical to feminism; this exhibition is showing the opposite – that women throughout history have strategically and persistently used fashion to make statements [that are] political, social and aesthetic.”

Dr. Green joined the faculty at Cornell University in 2014. She is a 2007 graduate of Cornell University. Dr. Green earned a master’s degree in textiles from the University of California, Davis, and a Ph.D. n socio-cultural anthropology from the University of British Columbia in Canada.

The exhibit will be on display in Cornell’s Human Ecology Building through March 31, 2019.

Filed Under: Women's Studies


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