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Eric Feigenbaum

Merci Beaucoup

Matthew Yokobosky, The Brooklyn Museum’s Senior Curator of Fashion and Material Culture, has been named a Chevalier in the National Order of Merit

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Photography: Eric Feigenbaum, New York

THE CONSULATE GENERAL of France in New York said “thank you” to Matthew Yokobosky by naming him a Chevalier in the National Order of Merit this past Jan. 18. The honor was bestowed on Yokobosky – 2022’s Markopoulos Award winner – for illuminating French fashion through his inspirational and spectacular exhibitions at the Brooklyn Museum. Damien Laban, Acting Consul General of France in New York, presented the prestigious award at the French Consulate on Fifth Ave. in New York City. As the medal was pinned on Matthew’s lapel, he officially became a Knight of the National Order of Merit.

Laban’s predecessor, Jeremie Robert, who was recently appointed as French President Emmanuel Macron’s adviser on African affairs, informed Yokobosky last summer that he would be recognized with this distinguished award.

Yokobosky had the pleasure of touring Robert throughout the Brooklyn Museum on several occasions prior to receiving the award. He said that when he received the call from Robert, he realized it was a very serious recognition.

“Jérémie, while lighthearted, is a very serious and thoughtful person. And after we spoke, I recounted that he said it was a designation from the President of France, which was created by Charles de Gaulle,” he says, “Since I expected Jérémie to be calling about something like art exhibitions, I was completely surprised that it was about an honor, and of course, I so appreciated being recognized for my work in such a distinguished manner… it will be with me always!”

When in school at the University of Pittsburgh, Yokobosky received a degree in film studies with an emphasis on design. At the time, he didn’t consider exhibition design a career option. After graduating, he got a job as a curatorial assistant in the Section of Film and Video at the Carnegie Museum of Art. When he made it to New York in 1987, he accepted a position as a curatorial assistant in the film and video department at the Whitney Museum.

Yokobosky, the aforementioned Markopoulos Award winner, worked at the Whitney for 12 years until he received a call from Arnold Lehman, then Director of the Brooklyn Museum. Lehman saw Yokobosky’s work at the Whitney, a Bob Thompson retrospective with yellow and red walls. Lehman, so interested in Yokobosky’s work in exhibition design, offered him a position.

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The curator’s most recent honor followed several major exhibitions based on the artistry of French fashion luminaries that included “The Fashion World of Jean Paul Gaultier: From the Sidewalk to the Catwalk,” “Pierre Cardin: Future Fashion,” “Thierry Mugler: Couturissme,” and “Christian Dior: Designer of Dreams.”

“This award recognizes my longtime interests and passion for French culture, specifically in the realm of fashion; cutting edge and innovative fashion,” says Yokobosky. “For decades, my eye went to the designs of ground-breaking designers like Pierre Cardin and Jean-Paul Gaultier, who not only sought to investigate new strategies for dressing but were heavily invested in breaking down the borders between female and male dress codes. This has a long history in French fashion, from Dior’s use of traditionally masculine fabrics for women’s clothing to Yves Saint Laurent’s invention of ‘Le Smoking’ in the 1960s.

“Today, these ideas have become global conversations, and laid the groundwork for many forms of gender-fluid dressing. So to be recognized for my exhibitions at the Brooklyn Museum, which have celebrated French designers that I was naturally and magnetically attracted to for decades, is extremely meaningful… the ultimate recognition.”

A star-studded crowd of creatives and fashion notables attended the event, including Dianne Brill, Amy Fine Collins, Lauren Ezersky, Esther Woo of Cartier, fashion designers Claudio Cina and Nabys Vielman, artist Paul Caranicas, visual merchandising icon Tom Beebe, and Ruth LaFurla of The New York Times.

Read more about Matthew Yokobosky in this Checking Out article or from our 2022 Markopoulos Award coverage.

PHOTO GALLERY (5 IMAGES)
📷 Eric Feigenbaum, New York

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