New York – The recently relocated Museum of Chinese in America (MOCA) in Chinatown here has two wonderful fashioned-themed exhibits on view until September 29. I was among the guests Board Chair Patty Tang and Executive Director Helen Koh invited to a preview.
The sleek new MOCA, located at 211-215 Centre Street, turned out to be a hidden jewel—a former machine shop transformed into museum space by Chinese-American architect Maya Lin, the acclaimed designer of Washington’s Vietnam Veterans Memorial (she was just a 21-year-old Yale senior when she won the memorial’s design competition in 1982).
Ms. Lin, Ms. Koh, and guest curator Mei Mei Rado accompanied us through a tour of the two exhibits, Shanghai Glamour: New Women 1910s-40s and Front Row: Chinese American Designers.
SHANGHAI GLAMOUR EXHIBIT
The Shanghai Glamour exhibit includes clothing, accessories, posters, and other ephemera associated with Shanghai fashions of the ’20s worn by different strata of society.
At a time when the city was considered the “Paris of the East,” female fashion represented quintessentially modern Chinese style.
Twelve dresses in the exhibition are from the China National Silk Museum in Hangzhou, and three are from private collections in New York, passed on to the descendants of prominent Shanghai families who immigrated to the U.S. after World War II.
FRONT ROW EXHIBIT
The Front Row exhibit showcased the creations of sixteen acclaimed Chinese-American fashion designers: Thomas Chen, David Chu, Melinda Eng, Jade Lai, Derek Lam, Wayne Lee, Humberto Leon & Carol Lim, Phillip Lim, Mary Ping, Peter Som, Anna Sui, Vivienne Tam, Yeohlee Teng, Zang Toi, Vera Wang, and Jason Wu.
Front Row and Shanghai Glamour at the MOCA draw parallels between 20th-century Shanghai and 21st-century New York, both centers of fashion innovation with worldwide influence.
After the tour, we lunched across the street at the Mondrian Hotel.
SAVE THE DATE
On November 14, 2013, MOCA will hold its annual Legacy Awards Gala at Cipriani 42nd Street, honoring individuals for their outstanding achievements and contributions to the ongoing legacy of the Chinese in America.
Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg and former Vice Chairman of Citicorp Pei-Yuan Chia will receive the Lifetime Achievement Award, and celebrity chef Ming Tsai will be honored with the Legacy Award.
Photos by Jeanne Lawrence.
*Urbanite Jeanne Lawrence reports on lifestyle and travel from her homes in San Francisco, Shanghai, and New York, and wherever else she finds a good story.