Beyond Rebellion

A new exhibition chronicles the biker jacket’s wild ride through history

Comme des Garçons Jacket

Though a classic motorcycle jacket is now just as easy to spot in a street style slideshow as it is on the highway, the iconic piece wasn’t always mainstream. A new exhibition at The Museum at FIT titled Beyond Rebellion: Fashioning the Biker Jacket uncovers how the iconic Perfecto went from utilitarian garment to coveted designer staple. The exhibition, organized by graduate students at the school, begins with the jacket’s 1928 invention by Irving Schott and follows its evolution as a symbol of protection, rebellion, and, yes, high-fashion. Pieces on display run the gamut from a jumpsuit variation by Yves Saint Laurent to an exaggerated Jean Paul Gaultier number to a funky ballerina-inspired take by Comme des Garçons. What is perhaps most interesting of all is the 1980’s replica of Schott’s original design: with its exposed zippers, buckles, and sturdy black leather, the classic Perfecto is as cool as ever.

“Beyond Rebellion: Fashioning the Biker Jacket” is on view at The Museum at FIT, Seventh Avenue at 27th Street, through April 5th.

Photos: Beyond Rebellion

Schott Perfecto jacket, circa 1980. Photo courtesy of The Museum at FIT.

Jean Paul Gaultier jacket, 1987. Photo courtesy of The Museum at FIT.

Yves Saint Laurent (Stefano Pilati) jumpsuit, Fall 2009. Photo courtesy of The Museum at FIT.

Comme des Garçons (Rei Kawakubo), jacket and skirt, Spring 2005. Photo courtesy of The Museum at FIT.