Ever since the wild success of the Alexander McQueen exhibit at the Metropolitan Museum of Art two summers ago, fashion exhibits have been popping up in art museums all over the country. You can debate whether or not fashion design qualifies as art, but you can't debate the fact that these exhibits draw crowds.
Right now, "30 Years of Japanese Fashion" is on display at the Seattle Art Museum, featuring the work of contemporary designers like Issey Miyake. In September, you can catch the jewelry designs of Bulgari in the de Young Museum in San Francisco. And in October, the Brooklyn Museum will open a retrospective of Jean Paul Gaultier, the man responsible for Madonna's cone bra, among other achievements.
The Met's McQueen exhibit was the thing to wait hours for in 2011, long before the Cronut or MoMA's Rain Room. More than 600,000 people saw the exhibit, making it the eighth-biggest in Met history. Since then, the Met's Costume Institute Gala has become an even bigger ticket for fashion industry folks and celebrities. This year, the Met Gala inaugurated a retrospective on punk fashion.
Valerie Steele, director and chief curator of the Museum at the Fashion Institute of Technology, told The Wall Street Journal,
I think museum directors have come to realize that, like Impressionism, fashion really brings in the crowds.
The Fashion Institute of Technology — whose "Ivy Style" exhibition last year was well-received — will feature an exhibit on the "queer history" of fashion starting in September.
Photo of Sarah Jessica Parker at the 2013 Met Gala via Associated Press.