• Vionnet evening gown “Madeleine Vionnet is really emblematic of the type of designer we’re talking about in this show—a technician who was also an artist. Without her, the 1930s wouldn’t have looked they way they did. The sleeves and torso are cut all in one piece and the skirt is cut in quadrants that allow it to fall gracefully over the body.” — Patricia Mears
  • Aimee de Hereen suit “This was made by Knize, the Viennese tailors who dressed the Habsburgs, for a Brazilian socialite named Aimee de Hereen. It’s a walking suit. What’s interesting about it is that it’s culottes rather than a skirt. —P.M. Image courtesy of The Museum at FIT
  • Augustabernard evening gown Putting a name to this technically rigorous dress took some detective work: F.I.T.’s, which is most likely a copy of a couture original made by one of the big American department stores, has no label. A chance spotting of the original pale yellow dress in an auction catalogue made identification possible. “This dress is basically one piece of fabric slit down the middle and she took the two ends and tied them around the body in a double helix.” —P.M.
  • Munchen bathing suit “This was made early in the decade, before synthetics were popular. But you can see where swimwear is going: more body conscious, more fashion conscious. The refinement of sportswear in this period is really striking. You get better quality activewear, more revealing, much more fitted. It becomes a fashion statement.” —P. M.
  • Charles James coat “What’s interesting about this coat is that you can see that he was experimenting. He started out as a milliner and when he started making clothes he wasn’t always successful. This is cut on the bias but he chose a very loosely woven tweed that would have been hard to control.” —P.M.Image courtesy of The Museum at FIT
  • Blue Knize dinner jacket “Midnight blue dinner jackets were popularized in the early 1930s by the Duke of Windsor and his brother, the Duke of Kent. The thinking was that a dark blue was richer looking under artificial light than black. But the owner of this jacket went a few shades lighter.” —G. Bruce Boyer
  • McGregor men’s bathing suit and robe “This suit is from the early part of the decade. As you go through the ’30s, swimwear becomes skimpier. By the end of the decade, the top would have been gone. The 1930s was when the idea that men should be athletic and muscular rather than portly and dignified originated.” —G.B.B.
  • Gardner and Wooley green smoking jacket “The smoking jacket is a holdover from Edwardian times, when men would put them on after the ladies retired after dinner. In the 1930s, they were worn when you entertained at home. If you went out, you wore a dinner jacket. But if you had guests at home, you would wear a smoking jacket. They came in different colors: dark yellow, dark blue, maroon, red.” —G.B.B.
  • Anderson and Sheppard suit “Anderson and Sheppard are probably the most successful, best known tailors on Savile Row. This suit is a walking or golf suit—you can use the terms interchangeably. It was made by Peter Sheppard, the son of the founder of the firm, for himself.” — G.B.B.