While attending Summit Country Day, he wore an Adam Ant hair cut and black eyeliner. He graduated Harvard with a degree in sociology then earned a doctorate from the London School of Economics.
The London part was a bit touch and go. John Bartlett had the habit of spending his tuition on clothes.
It was London in the '80s - Vivienne Westwood, Body Map, punk rocker style and leather -and rubber - fetish wear.
What's a Cincinnati guy to do?
In Bartlett's case, return stateside to New York's Fashion Institute of Technology and then in 1992 open his own fashion firm.
"I think he may be on the cusp of his time," Valerie Steele, chief curator for the Museum at the Fashion Institute of Technology told the Washington Post. "He's one of the most interesting designers to come out in recent years."
"He looks at the world through his training in sociology," says Cynthia Amneus, curator of John Bartlett:Dreaming in Darkness opening Nov. 15 in the Cincinnati Wing.
"He looks at art and film and writers...He draws from deep sources but his clothing is very wearable."
Bartlett's portion of the museum's homage to fashion is not a costume exhibition, but rather an avant garde installation capped by a floor to ceiling wall of male mannequins.
The New York Times hailed Bartlett as "the most innovative American designer currently on the fashion scene" His men's and women's wear will be on display through Feb. 1.
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