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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
Posted: Monday, July 21, 2014
Charles James grew up traveling with his family to fashion capitals all over the globe. He gained inspiration from the world around him and then put his own personal spin on traditional ideas, never choosing to follow any particular seasonal trends. He loved to take funky fabric and work it into ways never seen before. For example, if a fabric was meant to be used in a stiff manner, James would soften it with steam and bend it to his desired shape. He was uncompromising in his vision, always favoring his personal ideals of feminine beauty over the specific desires of his clients, who, despite this stubbornness, loved him. He was a revolutionary iconoclast who considered himself as much an artist and a technician as a designer.
Posted: Friday, July 11, 2014
Charles James: Beyond Fashion features the works of revolutionary fashion designer Charles James, known for his avant-garde concepts and architecturally advanced structure and form. Upon coming into the gallery filled with ball gowns, you're greeted by these amazing dresses on circular pedestals. The whole room is so dimly lit that the dresses almost seem to be suspended in mid-air in the semidarkness.
Posted: Friday, July 4, 2014
As your eyes adjust to the dim light in the exhibition Charles James: Beyond Fashion, text appears on the glass before you and guides how you should consider the dresses behind it—if you can even call them dresses! Charles James revolutionized the twentieth-century fashion establishment through his idiosyncratic transformation of stiff millinery material into soft, fluid lines that mirror his notion of a woman's ideal form. The lines of his dresses emulate the modern art of Georgia O'Keeffe.
Posted: Friday, June 27, 2014
The current exhibition Charles James: Beyond Fashion, the first in the Museum's new Anna Wintour Costume Center, features the work of one of the most significant couturiers of the twentieth century. When you walk into the exhibition, the lighting and placement of Charles James's glamorous ball gowns make you feel as though you're a guest at an enchanting party, and the dresses, which have names such as "Butterfly," "Clover Leaf," "Swan," and "Diamond," are exquisite.