A New York exhibition shows how extreme weather – such as the East Coast’s ”bombogenesis” today – has influenced fashion across continents and centuries


An icy fashion shoot by John Cowan for Vogue, November 1964, reproduced in Expedition: Fashion from the Extreme (Thames & Hudson) by Patricia Mears et al, which accompanies the exhibition at The Museum at FIT in New York.


So the temperature in New York has risen to minus eight degrees? Phew! After breaking a few records – including that for the entire 20th century – next weekend is expected to drop further to a shivering minus 16 degrees (not even counting the wind chill).

Autumn/Winter 2004

A polyester down-filled parka by Demna Gvasalia for Balenciaga, Autumn/Winter 2016. Right, just seen: A Junya Watanabe ensemble for Comme des Garçons, Autumn/Winter 2004

But I could have predicted that back in September, when, gasping from the heat, I dashed into “Expedition: Fashion From the Extreme” at The Museum at FIT (the Fashion Institute of Technology). There were outfits worn by Arctic explorers who reached the North Pole in 1909, while a century later Chanel launched a furry collection for Autumn/Winter 2010 that Karl Lagerfeld set against massive glaciers imported from Sweden.

From left: Puffer coat by Jean Paul Gaultier, “Le Grand Voyage” collection, Autumn/Winter 1994. Lent by Dorothea Mink; Isaac Mizrahi “Lumberjack ball gown” ensemble, Autumn/Winter 1994. Lent by Isaac Mizrahi; (in case) Siberian funerary coat, c. 1900. Lent by American Museum of Natural History; Yohji Yamamoto coat and skirt, dress and fur collar, and evening dress, all Yohji Yamamoto Autumn/Winter 2000

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