Taylor Swift: Storyteller // Exhibit at Museum of Arts and Design in New York City!

Taylor Swift: Storyteller is a career-spanning exhibit that celebrates every aspect of her artistry, from live performances, music videos, and photoshoots. It is currently on display in New York City at the Museum of Arts and Design through March 2024. Taylor is such a prolific storyteller, both in her music and in all of the accompanying visual aspects of her work. She has such a strong talent for bringing her music to life in so many different ways and has always been able to craft such a detailed, intricate universe within her art in a way like no other. This exhibit featured so many iconic and instantly recognizable pieces of her history that was so exciting and surreal to see up close. 

This exhibit opened earlier this year in New York City and I knew ever since it was announced, I wanted to go to it on my birthday! Almost every year I celebrate my birthday in NYC and this ended up being yet another perfect day in the city!

I had the chance to see another exhibit back in 2016 called The Taylor Swift Experience that was put on by The Grammy Museum, which was amazing too! Both of these exhibits were completely different curated collections of her archive. That exhibit focused heavily on the 1989 era of her career, as it was the newest album at the time. Since I went to that exhibit in 2016, she has had eight new albums, including all of the three Taylor's Versions, so there was definitely a lot more history to cover now in this Storyteller exhibit! 

Taylor Swift: Storyteller covers her entire career and it was so great to see pieces of her archive through all of the eras, from her debut in 2006 through her latest album, Midnights in 2022. It was set up sequentially so that the visitors could really see her evolution through the years. 

In an interview with Vogue in 2016 she talked about the ways her fashion has continued to evolve through the years and the way it connects back to her music, "Going through different phases is one of my favorite things about fashion. I love how it can mark a passage of time. It's similar to my music in that way - it all helps identify where I was at different points in my life."

The first room featured some of my favorite pieces in the exhibit. It focused on some of the most iconic fashion moments from her 1989 and Reputation eras. Some of my favorites were from her 2014 "Shake It Off" music video, like the ballerina dress and cheerleader uniform. That video is so iconic and was a major turning-point in her career. All of the pieces featured from the 1989 era were so exciting to see, the tour outfits are so stunning up close. I have only ever seen any of these in photos and video, and they are so gorgeous and detailed in person. 

The sparkly jumpsuit designed by Zuhair Murad from the 1989 World Tour is one of my all-time favorites from all of the tour outfits she has ever worn. Her performances of "Out Of The Woods" while wearing this bodysuit are so iconic. In 2016, I also saw the dark blue version of this bedazzled bodysuit that she wore to perform that song at The Grammy's which was so stunning too!

Fittingly enough, later that night Taylor even announced the release date for her next album, 1989 (Taylor's Version), which was so exciting! 1989 is forever my favorite album and means so much to me. After such a great day in New York that was very 1989-coded, it felt like perfect timing - it's as if she knew it was my birthday or something lol!

The Reputation costumes are also major highlights for me. I especially love the "Blind For Love" Gucci hoodie and red metallic thigh-high boots paired with the rubber cat mask from the scene where she is robbing a bank vault in the "Look What You Made Me Do" video. That entire video has so many iconic moments, especially when it comes to her fashion. Visually and conceptually, it is one of her best videos she has ever done. There could honestly be an entire exhibit dedicated to just the fashion from that video! That particular Gucci look has always stood out to me as some of my favorites. 

They also had the updated Junior Jewels pajamas on display from the "Look What You Made Me Do" video too, inspired by the original "You Belong With Me" music video look. Technically a lot of these costumes on display that Taylor wore between her debut era through 1989 showed up again in that video!

The other area of the first section of the room featured various instruments and jewelry from her tours and music videos. The first is the bedazzled silver acoustic Taylor guitar that she used on her Speak Now World Tour. She always has the most shimmering beautiful guitars in her performances even today, seeing all of the detail and iridescence up close was great!

There was also a case of Tiffany & Co. necklaces worn in the "Bejeweled" music video, which is so gorgeous. I can't even imagine how much those are probably worth! There were a few other pieces from the "Bejeweled" video featured later in the exhibit, too. The entire video is so glamorous and beautifully done. The hair clips are designed by Lelet NY and the earrings are designed by Ninon. 

There was also the lute from "willow" music video that she used in the scene where she was performing in a glass box. I love that video so much and everything that was on display from both Folklore and Evermore was so exciting to see.

The middle of the room featured a brief retrospective of her entire career, with one iconic outfit from each era on display. It really shows how her style and music has evolved through the years. All of these are synonymous with their respective era and are among the most recognizable pieces from those album cycles. 

I also love fashion history and seeing all of the detail that goes into creating all of these pieces is just incredible. Being able to see ever bead, gem, or sequin that was meticulously sewn to these gorgeous custom pieces was so incredible up close. The detail of the green beaded two-piece set from the 1989 World Tour and the iconic beaded gold dress from the Speak Now World Tour stand out to me as among the most breathtaking in terms of craftsmanship.

There was only one piece from her debut album in this exhibit, which is a layered teal dress from a performance in 2007 with hand-painted Ed Hardy cowboy boots with her name on them. The last NYC exhibit I went to featured a lot more of this era, one of the highlights was the beautiful sage green "Teardrops On My Guitar" gown.

Next to it was the cream-colored blouse designed by Ulla Johnson that she wore on the cover of the Fearless (Taylor's Version) album. Out of everything in this exhibit and all of the stunning couture gowns and custom costumes, this was one of the biggest highlights from the entire exhibit for me. Even if it is one of the simplest pieces from the collection, it feels like one of the most important pieces of her fashion history as it was on the cover of her very first Taylor's Version album cover. I've seen many of her costumes and red-carpet outfits at various museums through the years, but I never saw an outfit used on one of her album covers before so this was so exciting!

This beautiful Roberto Cavalli golden fringe dress and knee high black boots from Speak Now World Tour is what she wore this for the opening of "Sparks Fly". This look has become synonymous with that whole era and continues to be one of her most recognizable pieces in terms of fashion. It was even pulled from the archive and used again in her "I Can See You" video recently alongside the release of Speak Now (Taylor's Version) in July 2023!

There was quite a few pieces from the Red era featured, which I loved since it is one of my favorite albums ever, both in 2012 and 2021. In this display case, the iconic outfit from the "22" music video was featured, the star being the white sequin shirt that says "Not A Lot Going On At The Moment" on it. I didn't want to read anything about what pieces were featured in this exhibit before going so I could be surprised, but I have a shirt just like this that I would have worn if I had known the original was going to be here! It is such a fun look and one that is instantly recognizable!

This is another one of my favorite pieces of the exhibit. It is a Jessica Jones custom one-piece fringe green dress used during the encore of the 1989 World Tour for her performance of "Shake It Off". I have always loved the creative direction of those performances - it is some of the best of her entire career. 

Another instantly recognizable tour costume is this Jessica Jones sequin black custom hooded jacket and bodysuit, worn for the opening of her Reputation World Tour. She wore it during the performances of "...Ready For It" and "I Did Something Bad", among others, which particularly are among some of my all-time favorites.

I also loved all of the Lover looks featured throughout the exhibit. There were two Versace looks that she wore at the 2019 VMAs, one being a metallic gold corset and indigo bedazzled jacket and shorts. I also loved the matching metallic gold Christian Louboutin boots too! She performed a medley of "Lover" and "You Need To Calm Down" in this ensemble.

From all of the eras, I think Lover was one of the best represented eras in the exhibit, which I will show more of soon. I feel like that was such a fun and playful time for her in terms of fashion, where everything was so colorful and bold. After a lot of the daker aesthetics of the Reputation era, Lover was the complete antithesis of that and marked a new creative direction for her. 

There was only one piece featured from the Folklore archive, which was a Lou & Grey striped rugby top. I love that photoshoot so much and it was so cool to see it in person. Like the blouse worn on the Fearless (Taylor's Version) album cover, it is quite simplistic and provides such a contrast to the other ornate costumes featured. I do wish they featured more items from the album, like the iconic trench coat or cardigan, but hopefully they are utilized in future exhibits!

There was a lot of Evermore featured throughout though, like the denim and shearling jacket designed by Stella McCartney for the album photoshoot, which was displayed next to the striped Folklore rugby shirt. Later in the exhibit the black lacy dress from the "willow" music video, designed by Magnolia Pearl, was also featured. It was displayed alongside the (invisible) string of lights used as the "single thread of gold that tied me to you". 

The newest era is Midnights, which was featured heavily throughout the exhibit, especially pieces from the "Bejeweled" music video. One of the other notable moments from Midnights in terms of fashion is this periwinkle faux fur jacket from Free People, as seen in the "Lavender Haze" music video. 

In addition to the jewelry featured earlier in the exhibit, two of the costumes featured in the "Bejeweled" music video were so stunning and ornate in their detail. The first is a two-piece ensemble custom designed by Michael Schmidt Studios, inspired by burlesque performers such as Dita Von Teese who also starred alongside Taylor in the video. 

The other is a custom lace dress that looks like it was inspired by Marie Antoinette, paired with a sash that says "Bejeweled" on it. Both of these costumes encapsulate the title "Bejeweled" perfectly. The craftsmanship was so stunning in person, there was even a video on display of the designers creating this dress, which was incredible to watch!

One of my favorite sections of the exhibit was dedicated to Lover, particularly the "You Need To Calm Down" music video. One of my favorites is the Versace suit jacket and thigh high boots that she wore to the 2019 VMAs where she won Video of the Year for "You Need To Calm Down". I have been to several fashion exhibits that features a lot of Versace designs, especially at The Metropolitan Museum of Art's Costume Institute, and I am always blown away by the gorgeous detail of all of their designs. This is by far one of her most iconic red-carpet outfits as well as one of my personal favorites, so it was really exciting to see this in person!

The two costumes from the "You Need To Calm Down" music video were also so much fun to see! I especially love the Marina Hoermanseder metallic purple cowgirl-inspired blouse and metallic gold Saint Laurent short look. Of course, the plastic flamingos and rainbow unicorn boots from Irregular Choice were so cute too! Next to it was a creme silk and red lace robe from Agent Provocateur that she wore in the opening scenes of that video too! The Lover neon sign also pulled together the whole scene perfectly! 

Outside the exhibit also featured the wallpaper and a painting of her cat Benjamin from the "Lover" music video, so cute!

The exhibit also featured an extensive Red section, from both the original 2012 tour and the 2021 Taylor's Version re-release of the album. I loved seeing the two outfits from the "I Bet You Think About Me" video, like the red floral ball gown and the custom bellhop costume. The red floral gown is a custom Nicole + Felicia Couture, and even utilized 20,000 individual floral appliqués! It is such a breathtaking design! 

The red bellhop costume was custom designed by her long-time stylist, Joseph Cassell. The red Christian Louboutin heels she wore with this look were also reused in the "Karma" music video released in May 2023 too!

I love both Red eras so much and was so excited to see this exhibit featuring so much of it! 

The full ensemble used at the Red World Tour in 2013 during her performance of "All Too Well" was also featured, including the custom Marina Toybina black lace dress and knee-high boots, as well as the piano she played on the tour. The red bedazzled electric guitar that she played during that tour is also on the back wall!

Taylor Swift: Storyteller is such a beautifully curated exhibit, one that is essential for any Taylor fan to visit in the city this year. If you couldn't tell by now, I am obviously a huge fan of Taylor and her music, so all of this was so exciting to see! It was overall a great experience. For more information, check out the Museum of Arts and Design website. If you are interested in reading more about Taylor Swift's fashion or seeing source images for any of the items included in this exhibit, taylorswiftstyle.com is a great resource for all of the details!

Thanks for reading! I would love for you to check out more of my Taylor-related posts and album reviews linked here and below - with many more to come! 

-Melissa ♡

All photos are my own!

Related Posts:

Midnights // Taylor Swift Album Review

Fearless (Taylor's Version) Album Review

Red (Taylor's Version) Album Review

Speak Now (Taylor's Version) Album Review

Folklore: The Long Pond Studio Sessions by Taylor Swift // Record Store Day 2023


Popular Posts

Olivia Rodrigo & Noah Kahan // Stick Season & Lacy Live at the BBC // Record Store Day 2024 Exclusive 7" Vinyl

Re: This Is Why by Paramore // 2024 Record Store Day Exclusive Ruby Red Vinyl


The 1975: Live at Gorilla // Record Store Day Exclusive Vinyl 2024

GUTS by Olivia Rodrigo // Album Review