REVIEW In an age of inexpensive fashion knockoffs proliferated by stores like H&M and Forever 21, it's become almost effortless to access catwalk trends. But while it's a fashionista's wet dream to possess such designer approximations, one wonders whether we're forgetting our clothing's origins, born from the creative genius of haute couture, which in turn found its inspiration in many of the world's traditional garments. The Museum of Craft and Folk Art's "Fabric of Cultures: Fashion, Identity, Globalization" assuages some of my qualms by giving viewers not only an education on the development of textiles like block printing and lace or openwork, but also an opportunity to peruse traditional and high-fashion pieces as well as some of the classic ensembles that still inspire designers today. The brilliant gold threading of a deep purple sari from India calls to mind a lamé dress in the Marc by Marc Jacobs spring line, and a Mexican women's cream-colored coat with broad sleeves, pleated breast, and colorful embroidery reminds me of my slammin' new outerwear from H&M. The 30-piece exhibition is divided into five themes: weaving, surface design, embellishment, and openwork/pleating, and boasts creations by the likes of Emilio Pucci and Mary McFadden. While "Fabric of Cultures" is not the largest or best-organized show one will encounter, it will help cultivate your knowledge of textiles, and there's a sweet video presentation on pleating done at a factory in Japan. As viewer who loves clothes but can't design them, I'd say the exhibit was better than an episode of Project Runway. Sorry, Heidi, et al.
FABRIC OF CULTURES: FASHION, IDENTITY, GLOBALIZATION Through April 27. Tues.Fri., 11 a.m.6 p.m.; Sat.Sun., 11 a.m.5 p.m. Museum of Craft and Folk Art, 51 Yerba Buena Lane, SF. $5. (415) 227-4888, www.mocfa.org