Text and photos by Eleanor Foa Dienstag
For some of us, it’s hard to believe that our recent past is already “history.” But two lively exhibitions at the Museum of the City of New York serve as reminders of women’s gradual liberation, both political and sartorial.
“Equality: Beyond Suffrage – A Century of New York Women in Politics,” and “Mod New York,” which focuses on fashion between 1960 and 73, brought back a lot of memories. I’m sure they will for others “of a certain age,” as well.
New York City has always played a major role in the feminist movement. Frances Perkins, called the principal architect of The New Deal, was a workers-rights advocate in the city and state before being appointed by FDR to serve as U.S. Secretary of Labor from 1933 to 1945. The first woman appointed to the cabinet, she was a friend of Eleanor Roosevelt, whose lifelong fight for women’s equality is one of her greatest legacies.
The 1960s and 1970s brought “second wave feminism” led by an assortment of New York women well represented in this exhibition.
The show also pays tribute to today’s feminists with a “pussy hat” and (sigh) some Hillary artifacts.
If you have granddaughters, and want to give them a quick overview of the women’s fight for equality, this would be a painless place to start.
On a more frivolous note, “Mod New York” ushers in that brief period when Manhattan became the red-hot center of what Diana Vreeland called, “a Youthquake” of bold color and pattern. Jacqueline Kennedy’s lady like French-inspired clothes were replaced by hot pants, mini-skirts, thigh-high boots, hippie styles and a casual way of dressing that continues up to this day.
I saw lots of women reminiscing with friends about their ‘70s outfits. It’s that kind of fun show. Totally enjoyable.
Museum of the City of New York
103rd Street and Fifth Avenue
Beyond Suffrage – Through August 5, 2018
Mod New York – Through April 1, 2018