STATEN ISLAND, N.Y. — If fashion has always been your passion, you won’t want to miss the ongoing “Staten Island Mode: Identity, Memory, Fashion,” the first major contemporary fashion exhibition on Staten Island at the Newhouse Center for Contemporary Art at Snug Harbor Cultural Center & Botanical Garden.
The exhibit, open through the end of the year, focuses on unique aspects of Staten Island and described as a community-driven expedition of what people wear and why they wear it in relation to personal and local identity.
It’s a collection of memories and experiences relative to the uniqueness of Staten Island and commissioned by guest curators like Jenna Rossi-Camus and Alexis Romano, fashion researchers who grew up on Staten Island.
“We are thrilled to open ‘Staten Island Mode’ at the Newhouse Center,” said Melissa West, director and senior curator, Newhouse Center for Contemporary Art. “Not only is it the first major fashion exhibition on Staten Island, it centers unique stories and objects of the community. This project perfectly embodies Snug Harbor’s vision to be an incubator for bold and innovative art through residencies, exhibitions, and public programming. We invite visitors to explore the exhibition while contemplating their own relationships to fashion, history, and local culture.”
In a series of themed collections of garments and photography, “Staten Island Mode” highlights the art of dressing as “central to modes of being and practices of self-fashioning.”
The exhibition not only showcases the variety and diversity of the identities of Staten Islanders, but also the outcome of an experiment where a series of open calls for participation generated unexpected questions about what it means to be a Staten Islander and how perceptions and realities differ.
The presentation unfolds over four rooms that offer different approaches to collecting and interpreting dress, highlighting individual stories as well as the presence of fashion design and retailing on Staten Island.
The different spaces describe the role that dress plays in every day lives and reflects on the ways in which clothing is valuable in our closets, in our memories, and in spaces devoted to the display of art and design.
“The possibility of devising and executing a fashion exhibition as a tribute to my hometown has long been a personal and professional goal for me,” said Jenna Rossi-Camus, co-curator. “The ‘Staten Island Mode’ exhibition has provided me with the opportunity to reflect on my own relationship to the borough and its spaces, communities and styles. With the hindsight of nearly 20 years living abroad, the experience has been a sort of homecoming as well as a sartorial love letter to the place that engineered my interests in art, story-telling and fashion.”
“A Wu Wear T-shirt, a handmade hat, a prom dress, garments passed down from family members, and one’s personal photographs that capture memories of dress and place… in privileging and displaying these textures of life, ‘Staten Island Mode’ challenges hierarchical narratives of what fashion is, and argues that everyday dressers are authors of fashion,” added Alexis Romano, co-curator. “People (who we’ve had the real pleasure to meet and work alongside) are at the heart of this exhibition, and that’s a powerful idea for fashion curation.”
Visitors can learn more about this exhibition at snug-harbor.org/newhousecenter/
ABOUT THE CURATORS
Romano is a writer, curator and lecturer of fashion studies, design history and visual culture. Her work explores 20th-century fashion and photography, women’s history and everyday, subjective aspects of dress. She is a faculty member at Parsons School of Design, as well as US Editor of WeAr Global Magazine and a co-founder of the Fashion Research Network. Her book Prêt-à-Porter, Paris and Women: A Cultural Study of French Readymade Dress, 1945-1968 was published by Bloomsbury in 2022, and she contributes regularly to fashion, arts and culture publications including Vestoj, Domus, and Disegno. She held a 2020-21 postdoctoral fellowship at the Metropolitan Museum of Art’s Costume Institute, and earned her doctorate from the Courtauld Institute of Art in London.
Rossi-Camus is fashion curator, historian and artist from Travis, currently based in Margate, UK. She is an associate lecturer at University of the Arts London, where she teaches fashion history, theory and curation. She holds an master of arts and a doctorate from UAL London College of Fashion, where her practice-based doctoral research explored site-responsive exhibition-making as a strategy for the display of dress in historic buildings. Rossi-Camus has curated exhibitions including T-Shirt: Cult, Culture and Subversion (Fashion & Textile Museum London, 2018), Fashion & Freedom (Manchester Art Gallery, 2016) and Women, Fashion, Power (Design Museum London, 2014). Prior to pursuing curatorial work, she worked as a theatrical costume designer, vintage textile archivist and prop stylist for fashion advertising.
Romano and Ross-Camus both grew up on Staten Island but didn’t meet until 2011 while studying fashion history in the UK. A chance conversation in a London pub led them to discover their common origin and to begin to imagine the exhibition that would become ‘Staten Island Mode.’
Gallery Hours: Friday and Saturday, 12 noon to 7 p.m., Sunday: 11 a.m. to 5 p.m., Newhouse Center for Contemporary Art, Main Hall Gallery in Building C
Admission: $5, students/seniors, $4, Snug Harbor members will be admitted free.