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: 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.
Posted: Tuesday, June 17, 2014
Sarah Scaturro and Glenn Petersen are conservators in The Costume Institute who not only contributed to the conservation of Charles James's works in Charles James: Beyond Fashion, on view through August 10, but also authored an essay for the catalogue which accompanies the exhibition. The book offers a comprehensive study of the life and work of legendary Anglo-American couturier Charles James (1906−1978) and highlights his virtuosity and inventiveness. This publication also includes early photographs and rarely seen archival items, such as muslin study pieces, dress forms, and sketches.
Posted: Tuesday, May 27, 2014
I recently sat down with Karin L. Willis, the photographer for the Charles James: Beyond Fashion catalogue that accompanies the current exhibition of James's work, on view through August 10. The publication offers a comprehensive study of the life and work of the legendary Anglo-American couturier Charles James (1906−1978), highlights his virtuosity and inventiveness, and includes early photographs and rarely seen archival items—including muslin study pieces, dress forms, and sketches. During our conversation Karin spoke about the challenging but rewarding process of photographing James's designs.