Masterworks: Unpacking Fashion | THE MET
November 18, 2016–February 5, 2017
THE MET | Fifth Avenue, Anna Wintour Costume Center
“Our mission is to present fashion as a living art that interprets history, becomes part of the historical process, and inspires subsequent art,” said Mr. Bolton. “Over the seven decades since The Costume Institute became part of The Met in 1946, our collecting strategy has shifted from creating a collection of Western high fashion that is encyclopedic in breadth to one focused on acquiring a body of masterworks.”
The exhibition will highlight approximately 60 of these masterworks from the early 18th century to the present, which The Costume Institute has acquired since its last acquisitions show, blog.mode: addressing fashion, in 2007.
The main Lizzie and Jonathan Tisch Gallery will be organized chronologically with ensembles shown in packing crates as though they have just arrived at The Met. Each object—primarily women’s wear, as well as some men’s wear ensembles and a selection of accessories—will be accompanied by an in-depth explanation of its significance within the canon of fashion history. Some newly acquired objects will be paired with pieces already in the collection to illustrate the enduring influence of certain master couturiers and iconic historical silhouettes. A recently acquired John Galliano for Maison Margiela dress from 2015 will be paired with a Cristobal Balenciaga gown from 1964. An Azzedine Alaia dress from the 1994, new to the collection, will be juxtaposed with a Charles James evening dress from the 1950s.
The Carl and Iris Barrel Apfel Gallery will feature some of the ensembles donated by designers in honor of Harold Koda upon his retirement as Curator in Charge of The Costume Institute in January 2016.
“While fashion is often derided for its ephemerality, its quick responsiveness to change ensures that it is an immediate expression of the spirit of its time—a vivid reflection of social, cultural, and political circumstances, and of shifting ideals of beauty,” said Ms. Regan. “The masterworks we’ve chosen to highlight are among many we have collected in the past decade that draw on forms, motifs, and themes of the past, reinterpreting fashion history in ways that resonate in the present.”
Designers in the exhibition will include Gilbert Adrian, Azzedine Alaïa, Cristóbal Balenciaga, Geoffrey Beene, Thom Browne, Sarah Burton (Alexander McQueen), Antonio del Castillo (Lanvin-Castillo), Hussein Chalayan, Gabrielle “Coco” Chanel, Christian Dior, Domenico Dolce and Stefano Gabbana (Dolce & Gabbana), Tom Ford, Jean Paul Gaultier, John Galliano (John Galliano and Maison Margiela), Nicolas Ghesquière (Balenciaga), Charles James, Rei Kawakubo (Comme des Garçons), Karl Lagerfeld (House of Chanel), Jeanne Lanvin, Christian Louboutin, Maison Margiela, Alexander McQueen, Issey Miyake, Paul Poiret, Zandra Rhodes, Yves Saint Laurent (House of Dior and Rive Gauche), Elsa Schiaparelli, Raf Simons (House of Dior), Hedi Slimane (Saint Laurent), Noritaka Tatehana, Philip Treacy, Iris van Herpen, Viktor Horsting and Ralph Snoeren (Viktor & Rolf), Gianni Versace, Madeleine Vionnet, Vivienne Westwood & Malcolm McLaren (Let it Rock), Jean-Charles and Jean-Philippe Worth (House of Worth), and Yohji Yamamoto.