Friday, October 2, 2015


Fashion Underground: The World of Susanne Bartsch at the Museum at FIT; Realistic mannequin looks just like Susanne Bartsch

With guest-list in hand, a lifelike replica of Susanne Bartsch leads a line of mannequins en maquillage, greeting guests at an alley-like entrance to the Museum at FIT's Fashion Underground exhibit. Behind closed doors, black walls, disco balls and 80+ designer-clad divas pay tribute to the 'Queen of NYC Nightlife' in a club-themed showcase of clothing as a means of transformation. From her first party in 1986 to the weekly productions almost 30 years later, Susanna Bartsch continues to unite the creatively energetic in a flamboyant ecosystem of self-expression. Keep reading for a look into the exhibit (and some great ideas for Halloween!)...

80s chic

For 30 years, uptown, downtown and cross-town folks flock to Bartsch's extravagant events. Now, the general public can indulge in a dash of club-chic costumery at FIT Museum's Fashion Underground: The World of Susanne Bartsch. Mannequins รก la mode don ornate outfits representing little known brands from the 80s to high fashion designers of today. Stand-outs include Bartsch's wedding ensemble by Thierry Mugler, a 3D printed dress by ThreeAsFour, a fuzzy red heart corset by Mr. Pearl and an assortment of latex, spandex and reflective attire.  

Opening Day of Fashion Underground: The World of Susanne Bartsch [source] in the lobby of the Museum at FIT

Swiss born Bartsch moved to NYC on Valentine's day 1981, migrating overseas the remnants of an energetic English fashion and music scene. Setting up shop in Soho, Bartsch's boutique is the first to carry Viviene Westwood, John Galliano and other "unknown" brands of the day. Visitors entering the exhibit encounter a display of select 80s styles that Bartsch brings into her boutiques. 

Layered looks

Bartsch's premiere party originates at a club near the Chelsea Hotel. The exhibition continues with a large section devoted to the couture costumes from the club scene. A portion of the display features fashions from the "Love balls" borne to raise awareness around AIDS. Particularly apparent is a structured wedding ensemble from Bartsch's wedding to David Barton. In grand style, Bartsch walks down a runway and weds Barton in a cream colored bodysuit and structured veil, surrounded by 43 bridesmaids, at the end of a fashion show.

Sartorially sparkly

The final section of the exhibit is inspired by Bartsch's apartment at the Chelsea hotel. Wigs and works inspired by The Blonds are predominantly featured. One of the best exhibits this year, Fashion Underground is on display until December 5th. Find out more about the exhibit, accompanying book and 2-day symposium by clicking on the respective links.

Beaded beauty

Illustrative posters 


Asian assemblage; dress by Mathu and Zaldy (2011)

Here comes the bride, not dressed in white--bodysuit and veil (front) by Thierry Mugler (1995); select outfits by Zaldy

So many options! Which tonight?!

Three's company with thigh highs

 Lovely lineup

Swing + wings

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