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The Costume Institute

Anna Wintour Costume Center | Charles James: Beyond Fashion

The Costume Institute's collection of more than thirty-five thousand costumes and accessories represents five continents and seven centuries of fashionable dress, regional costumes, and accessories for men, women, and children, from the fifteenth century to the present.

In Circulation

Satyr Calisthenics and Other Oddities

William Blueher, Metadata and Collections Librarian, Thomas J. Watson Library

Posted: Wednesday, November 4, 2015

Imagine for a moment that you are a nineteenth-century satyr who is into calisthenics. Your best friend is a frog who enjoys watching as you swing from ropes, climb ladders, dangle from trees, and casually bend your legs behind your head. You are a breakdancer avant la lettre, and sometimes you scale towering beams just for fun. Now, where might you find an accurate illustrated depiction of this nineteenth-century version of yourself? In Watson Library's Digital Collections, of course.

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Sargent Exhibition Blog

"A Crying Tint of Rose": Fashion in Sargent's Mrs. Hugh Hammersley

Jessica Regan, Assistant Curator, The Costume Institute

Posted: Tuesday, September 8, 2015

John Singer Sargent's portrait of Mrs. Hugh Hammersley, currently on view in Sargent: Portraits of Artists and Friends, portrays a captivating, vivacious woman gracefully posed on a French sofa. As a curator of costume, I am almost equally enchanted by her striking fuchsia velvet dress, which Sargent has so masterfully rendered with all its lush sheen and texture.

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Teen Blog

A New World—China: Through the Looking Glass

Hallie, Guest Blogger

Posted: Tuesday, July 7, 2015

The Costume Institute's spring exhibition, China: Through the Looking Glass, on view through September 7, captures the aura of China and its influence on Western fashion and culture. This exhibition juxtaposes art with fashion from designers who have made their mark in recent fashion history.

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Now at the Met

Spectrum Spotlight—China: Through the Looking Glass

Christopher Gorman, Assistant Administrator, Marketing and External Relations; Chair, Spectrum

Posted: Tuesday, July 7, 2015

Andrew Bolton, curator in The Costume Institute, recently spoke with me about the special exhibition China: Through the Looking Glass, extended through September 7.

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Now at the Met

The Decoration of Men's Fashion in Eighteenth-Century France

Kirstin Purtich, Former Intern, Department of European Sculpture and Decorative Arts

Posted: Wednesday, June 3, 2015

In the eighteenth century, promenading among the shops along the rue St. Honoré became a fashionable leisure activity for men and women alike. This street was home to Paris's marchands merciers (known as "mercers" in English), a class of merchants who dealt in all manner of luxury goods, including textiles for furnishing and clothing. The mercers' exclusive right to finishing work—arranging for the addition of embroidery, buttons, braids, and sequins through a network of specialized workers—allowed their customers to choose the exact colors and patterns they wanted at the point of sale. The range of embroidery samples currently displayed in the exhibition Elaborate Embroidery: Fabrics for Menswear before 1815, on view through July 19, offers a small window into the level of decoration and customization possible for fashionable men of the late eighteenth and early nineteenth century.

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Digital Underground

Analyzing #MetGala Engagement across the Globe

Elena Villaespesa, Digital Media Analyst; and Taylor Newby, Social Media Manager

Posted: Thursday, May 28, 2015

On Monday, May 4, 2015, the Met and Vogue hosted the annual Costume Institute Benefit, which celebrated this year's spring exhibition, China: Through the Looking Glass, on view through August 16. Notables from the worlds of fashion, film, society, sports, art, business, and music attended the Met Gala and were captured walking the red carpet across a wide range of social media.

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Now at the Met

Crossing Cultures—Platon for China: Through the Looking Glass

Rachel High, Publishing and Marketing Assistant, Editorial Department

Posted: Thursday, May 7, 2015

Best known for his compelling portraits of world leaders, Platon spent several months photographing couture garments from designers such as Christian Dior, Jean Paul Gaultier, Karl Lagerfeld, Alexander McQueen, and Yves Saint Laurent, as well as traditional Chinese costume and decorative art objects. I spoke with him about the book, his work, and the importance of artists as cultural mediators.

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Now at the Met

Back in Print—High Style: Masterworks from the Brooklyn Museum Costume Collection at The Metropolitan Museum of Art

Rachel High, Publishing and Marketing Assistant, Editorial Department

Posted: Monday, February 9, 2015

The perfect Valentine's Day gift for the fashion lover, High Style is now back in print as a paperback, with an updated cover that features the stunning "Clover Leaf" gown by Charles James. This lavishly illustrated volume presents some two hundred examples drawn from more than twenty-four thousand garments, accessories, hats, and shoes in the Brooklyn Museum's collection (which was transferred to the Met in 2009). A wide-ranging book covering garments from the eighteenth through the twentieth century, High Style provides a perfect introduction to the history of fashion.

In honor of Valentine's Day, read further to learn more about seven romantically hued ensembles featured in this publication.

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Now at the Met

Andrew Bolton Wins 2015 Vilcek Prize in Fashion

Nancy Chilton, Chief Communications Officer for The Costume Institute

Posted: Friday, February 6, 2015

Andrew Bolton, curator in The Costume Institute, was chosen as the winner of the Vilcek Prize in Fashion for his curatorial work that elevates fashion as an art form. The prize is part of the 2015 Vilcek Prize and Creative Promise Prizes in the Arts, which are awarded in the field of fashion, and spotlight foreign-born artists with records of major achievement in their fields.

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Teen Blog

A Color for All Seasons

Desiree, High School Intern

Posted: Friday, December 19, 2014

Death becomes her, or rather, death becomes you. Though the title of The Costume Institute's current exhibition Death Becomes Her is daunting, the show highlights the beauty of the mourning period. All throughout history, black has been seen as a dark, sorrowful, and empty color, perfectly fit for the clothes of a mourner. However, in this exhibition, black is the epitome of style. Some of these dresses were worn by Queen Victoria and Queen Alexandra themselves from 1815 to 1915. For these women, mourning didn't mean sulking in your house in a fit of rags; you went out and evoked mystery to everyone you encountered.

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