New York: The MET - Masterworks: Unpacking Fashion, Exhibition. The Costume Institute’s Fall 2016 exhibition, Masterworks: Unpacking Fashion, on view, until February 5, features significant acquisitions of the past 10 years. The show, curated by Assistant Curator Jessica Regan with support from Curator in Charge Andrew Bolton, explores how the department has honed its collecting strategy to amass masterworks of the highest aesthetic and technical quality, including iconic works by designers who have changed the course of fashion history and advanced fashion as an art form. Each object— primarily women’s wear, as well as some men’s wear and a selection of accessories—is accompanied by an in-depth explanation of its significance within the canon of fashion history. Some newly acquired objects are paired with pieces already in the collection to illustrate the enduring influence of certain master couturiers and iconic historical silhouettes.
Comme Des Garcons – Rei Kawakubo - Ensemble – 2015
Maison Margiela – John Galliano – Ensemble – 2015
French – Coat -1787-92
“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. 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.”
British – Robe a La Anglaise – 1747 ca.
Eighteenth-century garments are generally evaluated more for the quality of their materials than for details of cut and construction.
Paul Poiret – Opera Coat - 1911
Standout fashions of the Nineteenth century, meanwhile, display exemplary dressmaking or tailoring techniques and distinctive silhouettes.
Gilbert Adrian – Dress – 1947
Elsa Schiaparelli – Jean Cocteau – Evening Jacket - 1937
Masterworks of the Twentieth and Twenty-first centuries are primarily signature works by designers who have expanded the possibilities for fashion, whether conceptually or through innovative construction and techniques.
Viktor and Rolf – Ball Gown – 2010
“Our mission is to present fashion as a living art that interprets history, becomes part of the historical process, and inspires subsequent art,” “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.”
Lanvin-Castillo – Evening Dress – 1956
Charles James – ‘Tulip’ Evening Dress – 1949
House of Balenciaga – Cristobal Balenciaga - Dress – 1967
Philip Tracey – Paphiopedilum Philippinense Orchid Hat – 2000
Zandra Rhodes – Punk Wedding Dress – 1977
Versace – Dress – 2016
Hussein Chalayan – Dress – 1999
The Idiosyncratic Fashionistas’s Valerie and David Noh
Noritaka Tatehana – “Silver-Rose” Shoes – 2014
Chopines – Italian - 1600
Masterworks: Unpacking Fashion - The Harold Koda Gift
The Carl and Iris Barrel Apfel Gallery features 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. Through innovative and compelling exhibitions, he elevated our collective understanding of fashion as an art form. Koda's presentations were shaped by his belief in the power of dialogue between past and present the idea that the artistry of the past can be enlivened by that of the present day and that the significance of contemporary work is clarified when it is anchored in a broader historical narrative. This influential approach was complemented by Koda's passionate dedication to building the collection.
House of Dior – Raf Simmons – Ensemble - 2014-15
House of Dior – Christian Dior – “Mystere” Coat – 1947-48