Palette, Prism, Possibility
IAC’s 19th Annual New York Fashion Conference
November 10 – 11, 2017
The Graduate Center, The City University of New York
Why White? Because it contained—and hid—multitudes. Because it tricked us into thinking that there was no color where, in fact, there was nothing but. Because it was the repository of hope and change. In the 19th Annual Fashion + Design Conference, Initiatives in Art and Culture sought to reveal these multitudes, whether in the work of contemporary designers of clothing and accessories, of leading jewelers, or in the materials with which they worked their magic. We explored and unraveled the significance and power of white, taking a fresh approach to precious substances, natural fibers, and the processes by which they were transformed into objects and garments. At the same time, we looked anew at the ways in which society consumed, communicated about, and validated those materials. The white wedding dress, an icon continually reinvented. More modest garments, like the white tee and the white dress shirt, for example, were equally iconic and, in their distinct ways, equally powerful. Even when subtle, white maintained its authority: there would be no denim without its white weft. It was no accident that white figured so prominently among precious substances, whether diamonds, pearls, or platinum, each a symbol of power, of eternality. White was essential to the allure of faceted diamonds, our most valued prisms, while pearls required no cutting or polishing to exert their hold; their beauty was entirely intrinsic, and we were awed by their luster. White was complex, at once the color of celebration and of mourning, the color of refinement and of origins. Indeed, white was the color of beginnings: the white canvas awaited the brush, the blank page the pen. As the color of beginnings, white became a potent symbol of social and environmental responsibility and ethical clarity, the bedrock of the society we strived to shape and of a better future and a better world. The Lena and Louis Minkoff Foundation were gratefully acknowledged for their generosity. Initiatives in Art and Culture expressed sincere thanks to Kaltex, to the Hilldun Corporation, to the Diamond Manufacturers & Importers of America (DMIA), to Jewelers Mutual, and to UNLEASHED for their generous sponsorship, and to Shinola for its generous support (as of September 29, 2017).