DescriptionThis thesis studies how the “museumification” of fashion ―the collection and display of decommodified objects— may affectively (re)produce normative gender, class, ethnic, and geopolitical hierarchies narrated and embodied in the garments and exhibitions. Re-locating “personal” fashion items within institutional walls molds the (art) museum as a site for social control —surveillance, inclusion, exclusion— of subaltern groups, specifically of women, subcultures and ethnic minorities: respectively, the Metropolitan Museum of Art’s Impressionism, Fashion and Modernity and Punk: Chaos to Couture; and the Museum of Chinese in America’s Shanghai Glamour: New Women 1910s-40s and Front Row: Chinese American Designers serve as case studies. This argument is developed through a contrastive study of the exhibits, which deploys a multi-method approach. In order to contextualize museum practices and the fashion exhibitions, and address geopolitical relationships among those exhibited, I consider historical investigations and previous museum studies scholarship. Moreover, feminist fashion, affect, and post-colonial theories help navigate some of the different but complementary standpoints that shape the museum fashion experience. Informed by repeated visits to the exhibitions, I perform discourse analysis of the spatial (visual and physical) organization of the artworks in the displays; and of the visual and written texts provided at the museum —the descriptions of the galleries and the captions that accompany the garments, accessories, photographs, videos, music or paintings. Finally, throughout I analyze a contemporary prosthetic to the museum’s social body that aids the proliferation of the hegemonic discourses circulating within the museum: mass media related to the exhibits —television, press articles, and the museums’ websites. However, by focusing on the artificiality and construction of these discourses, the thesis ultimately considers the possibilities for destabilizing and subverting the aforementioned hierarchies. Rethinking collective aesthetic experiences and practices —such that audiences might consciously engage with and perform the meaning-making processes that art and fashion both allow— could alter museum publics’ degrees of participation with the fashion spectacles and within society at large.