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American POP Presents: Top 10 Iconic Fashion Pieces

Fashion is a huge part of popular culture. It’s something that people use to create outer identities to then reflect their inner identities. Nothing puts new fashion in the spotlight more than New York Fashion Week. Well, we’re celebrating New York Fashion Week the old fashioned way—no, really. In our American POP exhibit, you can see a lot of fashion items that once hit the runways. If you have them, dust them off. Here’s a list of classic throwback must-haves from our exhibit and collection. 

#1. Mod earring sunglasses, 1960s

Two accessories in one? Sign us up. No piercing needed. Once positioned on the face and ears, the frames of these glasses continued on to create the look of earrings. They were all the rage during 1960s convertible car rides and backyard barbecues. 

#2. Peter Max Love scarf, 1960s

Peter Max was an artist who became recognized through his work on books and advertising. Max was known for using bright colors and his interest in astronomy is apparent in his self-described "Cosmic '60s" period, which featured what became identified as psychedelic, counter culture imagery. With his knowledge of advertising and industry productions, Max worked with big clients like the United States Postal Service and Chrysler, and commercialized his art into mugs, clocks, scarves, and more.

#3. Letter sweater, 1960s

The letterman sweater or jacket has become a staple in high school culture. You had one if you were on a varsity sports team. And if you didn’t have one, and your significant other did, it felt just as good to wear it around, showing off your relationship pride. Cheesy, huh? Even though it’s an iconic piece throughout history, the sweaters and jackets don’t seem to make it past senior year. 

#4. Souper Dress, 1967

“Please don’t spill. Please don’t spill. Please don’t spill.” That’s what you’d be saying if you were wearing this dress MADE OF PAPER while taking out that classic Campbell’s tomato soup from that new microwave that your parents bought in ‘67. This dress is such a unique piece of our collection, we just had to put it on display in American POP. A clever play on words, the “Souper Dress” was a promotional item from Campbell’s Soup. This paper version was inspired by—you guessed it—pop artist, Andy Warhol. Paper clothing was really popular in the 60s. We also have a paper bikini in our collection! Would you wear either?

#5. Stephen Burrows maxi dress, 1970s

Burrows is a fashion designer known to be the first African-American designer to build a large mainstream, high-fashion clientele. He was hugely popular in the 70s disco scene, and still creates clothing today. 

#6. Go-go boots, 1970

Credited to designer André Courrèges, the go-go boot was presumed to be named after the dance-style. Go-go dancers were known to be quick-moving, assertive, and unafraid. These boots are simply an expression of that. Throughout the 60s and 70s, the length of the boot fluctuated between the calf and the knee, but the heel tended to remain short. 

#7. Telephone purse, early 1980s

Ring! Ring! Ring! It’s fashion history calling! And if you don’t answer, it’s going to call back. History tends to repeat itself, especially in fashion. What’s old becomes new again! Unique purses became very popular in the 70s and 80s, and still have their moments today. This one from the 1980s is a telephone purse that works! Call your mother, there’s been a sale at Betsey Johnson. Johnson re-introduced a similar looking purse to her collection in the 2010s. 

#8. Prince concert sleeveless t-shirt, 1985

Forget the letterman sweater, grunge fashion was all about flannels and holes in T-shirts. If you weren’t reppin’ your favorite kind of musical artist or group, you weren’t up to grunge par. Famous-band shirts, like Rolling Stones, Nirvana, and more, can still be found in large department stores—not necessarily from particular concerts, like this one from a Prince tour. 

#9. Converse sneakers, c. 1990

Most notable for their Chuck-Taylor All-Star high-tops (low-tops shown below), Converse has been creating shoes since 1908. That’s more than 100 years! Chuck Taylor was a basketball player who walked into Converse one day in 1923 explaining how his feet constantly hurt on the court—so Converse gave him a job. Ten years later, his signature was added to the iconic label. The brand began to decline during an economic recession in the 90s. The company filed for bankruptcy in 2001, but the classic look bounced back after Nike acquired Converse in 2003. 

#10. Versace suit, 1991

Versace is a global brand created by Gianni Versace in Italy in 1978. As you can tell from the suit below, Versace is known for flashy prints and bright colors. Gianni Versace chose Medusa for the brand logo because, just like her, he wanted to make people fall in love with his brand and never turn back. Our Versace suit makes up for the lack of coverage in Jennifer Lopez’s iconic Versace dress at the 2004 grammy’s. If you don’t know what we’re talking about, you’ll know it when you Google it. 

There you have it, fashion friends. We’ll be rotating fashion items in American POP (it’s permanent!), so that there will always be something new (well, old too) to see between high-fashion items and classic looks. 

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