'Visual storyteller': Taylor Swift's 'eras' on display at costume exhibit in NY


Costumes worn by Taylor Swift, part of the exhibit, 'Taylor Swift: Storyteller', are displayed at the Museum of Arts and Design in New York. Photo: AP

Taylor Swift has been breaking records and delighting fans on the US leg of her Eras Tour, a splashy celebration of her career and new releases since the pandemic.

It’s become a notoriously tough ticket to get.

But on the second floor of the Museum of Arts and Design (MAD) in New York City, fans can catch glimpses of Swift’s "eras” for much cheaper.

Taylor Swift: Storyteller, features dozens of costumes and objects spanning her music videos, tours and awards show performances – from the lace gown she wore when performing All Too Well on the Red Tour to the "key to the castle” featured in the video for Bejeweled.

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The goal, museum director Tim Rodgers said, was to explore how Swift uses clothing and props to tell stories – almost as much as she does lyrics.

"It’s different than stars that use costumes or fashion in order to enhance themselves,” Rodgers said. "Taylor Swift is using costumes and props like a vocabulary.”

Rodgers said Swift’s team came to MAD with the idea because of another exhibit they hosted – Queer Maximalism X Machine Dazzle – featuring the work of artist, performer and costume designer Matthew Flower, also known as Machine Dazzle.

"It was totally unexpected,” Rodgers said.

Taylor Swift: Storyteller opened ahead of Swift’s three-night stop nearby at New Jersey's MetLife Stadium.

Like her concerts, the collection walks visitors through her genre- and decade-spanning career. There's the crystal-encrusted guitar she used when performing her 2010 album Speak Now, a hooded bodysuit she wore during her Reputation Stadium Tour, the striped T-shirt she wore in a 2020 photoshoot for Folklore.

"She's a visual storyteller. Everything she does ... it feels very intentional," said Teresa Bocalan, a fan visiting the museum.

"So it's really cool to see those outfits up close."

Tim Rodgers, general director for the Museum of Arts and Design (centre), speaks during an interview about the exhibition. Photo: APTim Rodgers, general director for the Museum of Arts and Design (centre), speaks during an interview about the exhibition. Photo: AP

The exhibit, on display through Sept 4, is accompanied by a playlist of Swift’s music videos – including her short film for the 10 minute version of All Too Well – which are projected on screens around the room.

Lyrics scrawled in Swift's handwriting adorn key walls in the space.

But perhaps the centerpiece of it all is a more recent piece of Swift’s lore: the flowing red wedding dress she wore in the 2021 video for I Bet You Think About Me (Taylor’s Version) (From the Vault), directed by Blake Lively and co-starring Miles Teller.

The song, featuring Chris Stapleton, was an addition to the re-released version of her 2012 album Red. Adorned with tulle roses, the dress was custom made for Swift by Nicole + Felicia Couture.

Read more: Fashion designer Diane Von Furstenberg celebrated in Brussels museum exhibition

In the video, the red gown is a showstopper – or, more literally, a wedding stopper.

In the exhibit, it seems to hold the same power.

"We had people come in and look at that red wedding dress over there and literally start to cry,” Rodgers said of the exhibit's opening weekend. "It is, for a lot of people, almost like a religious experience to see this clothing that Taylor once wore.”

"I'm also super excited to see the I Bet You Think About Me dress over there,” said Greta Myers, a student at the Fashion Institute of Technology.

"We haven't looked at it yet. I'm saving it." – AP

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fashion , exhibit , Taylor Swift , costume designer


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