Through the Looking Glass" The Costume
Institute The Metropolitan Museum of Art
May 7, 2015 through
September 7, 2015
Most Dazzling Exhibit Ever at the Met
Inspired Designs for Foreign Designers
Jones almost steals the show with his spectacular "headpieces" that are
not in the photographs in the sumptuous catalogue
of Dior, John Galliano (British), Ensemble, spring/summer 2003, coat of
silk and synthetic jacquard printed with polychromed motifs, dress of
white silk knit and gold silk net embroidered with gold and metallic
thread; hat of white synthetic mesh. Courtesy of Christian Dior
The photographs in this article
that appear a bit warped are of pages from the exhibition's great
catalogue. The other photographs are by Carter B. Horsley.
By Carter B. Horsley
"China Through A Looking Glass" exhibition at The Costume Institute at
the Metropolitan Museum of Art is the most dazzling and beautiful in
the history of the museum, not just the Costume Institute.
not, despite its title, a review of great Chinese fashion designers as
they are in scant supply in this extremely sumptuous "haute couture"
Although it includes some cloaks and baubles from the
past, it mostly consists of relatively recent designs by well-known
fashion designers such as John Calliano, Emilio Pucci, Roberto Cavalli,
Yves Saint Laurent, and Valentino.
While the fashion
designs are very spectacular and innovative and by no means limited to
dragonladies, the exhibition also includes sensational headpieces/hats
designed by Stephen Jones that almost steal the show and which are not
included in the very sumptuous catalogue photographs.
The majority of the "works" in the exhibition are jaw-dropping and "game-changing."
of Dior, John Galliano (British), evening gown, spring/summer 2009
haute couture. White silk organza amd lace, and white silk satin
embroidered with blue silk thread. Courtesy of Christian Dior
his catalogue essay "Toward An Aesthetic of Surfaces," Andrew Bolton,
the Costume Institute curator, states that the exhibition "is not about
China per se but about a China that exists as a collective fantasy,"
adding that "It is about cultural interaction, the circuits of exchange
through which certain images and objects have migrated across
à la polonaise, French, ca/ 1780. White silk taffeta hand-painted
with polychrome floral motifs. The Metropolitan Museum of Art,
purchase, Mr. and Mrs. Alan W. Davis Gift. 1976
Saint Laurent (French). Evening coat, autumn/winter 1977/1978
haute couture. Gold lamé matelassé, black fox fur. Courtesy
of Fondation Pierre Bergé-Yves Saint Laurent, Paris
Gaultier (French). Dress, autumn/winter 2001-2 haute couture.
Gold lamé and blue silk mouseline. Courtesy of Jean-Paul
Toledo (American, born Cuba). Ensemble, autumn/winter 1996-7,
Blue and white silk wool brocade, white silk net. Courtesy of
Ruben + Isabel Toledo/Toledo Archives
S. p. A. (Italian). Dress, "Shanghai" collection 2013. Red
leather cut-out with appliqué of red leather and embroidery of red silk
thread. Courtesy of Valentino S. p. A.
Saint Laurent (French). Tom Ford (American). Evening dress,
autumn/winter 2004/5. Red silk satin embroidered with polychromed
plastic sequins, gray fox fur. The Metropolitan Museum of Art,
Gift of Yves Saint Laurent, 2005
coat, French circa 1925/ Double-sided pink and blue silk velvet,
quilted and inset with gold lamé, brown mink fur. Brooklyn Museum
Costume Collection of The Metropolitan Museum of Art. Gift of the
Brooklyn Museum, 2009, Gift of Mrs. Robert S. Kilbourne.
Cavalli (Italian). Evening dress, autumn/winter 2005-6.
Blue and white silk satin. Courtesy of Roberto Cavalli.
(America, founded 2004). Dress, spring/summer 2011/ White
and blue hammered silk crepe, white silk tulle embroidered with blue
and white ribbon. Courtesy of RODARTE.
Pucci (Italian, founded 1947). Peter Dundas (Norwegian).
Dress, spring/summer 2013. Slip of synthetic mesh
embroidered with black and gray silk threat, black beads and crystals,
dress of black silk chiffon. Courtesy of Emilio Pucci
McQueen (British) and Philip Treacy (British). "Chinese Garden"
headdress, spring/summer 2005. Carved cork. The Metropolitan
Museum of Art, Alfred Z. Solomon-Janet A. Sloane Endowment Fund, 2007
"Coco" Chanel, (French). Dress, circa 1956. White silk
surah printed with black Chinese character motifs. Brooklyn Museum
Costume Collection The Metropolitan Museum of Art, Gift of the Brooklyn
Museum, Gift of H. Gregory Thomas 1959
One would have thought that calligraphy would have inspired much more in this exhibition than just two dresses.
Dior (French). "Quiproquo" cocktail dress, 1951. White silk
shantung printed with black Chinese character motifs, The Metropolitan
Museum of Art, Gift of Mrs. Byron C. Foy, 1953
Saint Laurent, (French), Tom Ford (American). Evening dress,
autumn/winter 2004-5. Yellow silk satin embroidered with
polychrome plastic sequins. Coutesy of Yves Saint Laurent, Paris.
Exhibition gallery, left, and catalogue, right
Balenciaga (Spanish). Ensemble, 1955-6. White silk taffeta hand-painted
with polychrome floral motifs. Courtesy of The Henry Ford, Dearborn,
Michigan [Dress is much more white]
McQueen (British). Dress, autumn/winter 2006-7. Cream and
polychrome silk jacquard. Courtesy of Alexander McQueen, in poor
gallery lighting, left; in catalogue, right
of Chanel (French). Karl Lagerfeld (French). House of Lesage
(French). Evening dress, spring/summer 1984 haute couture.
White silk organza, tulle, and taffeta embroidered with blue,
white and crystal beads. Courtesy of Collection CHANEL, Paris,
Valli (Italian). Coat, autumn/winter 2013 haute couture.
White and blue printed silk faille embroidered with navy, blue
and white silk thread, clear synthetic sequins, crystals and appliqué
of blue and white silk organza. Courtesy of Giambattista Valli.
Li Xiaofeng (Chinese) Beijing Memory No. 5, 2009, Qing period shards, Red Gate Gallery, Beijing and the artist
Banton (American). Evening dress, 1934, black silk charmeuse
embroidered with gold and silver sequins. Brooklyn Museum Costume
Collection The Metropolitan Museum of Art, Gift of the Brooklyn Museum,
2009, Gift of Anna May Wong, in catalogue, left; in exhibition, right
May Wong is quite prominent in the exhibition and catalogue even though
she cannot hold a proverbial candle to such greater Chinese beauties as
Zhang Yizi, Gong Li and Maggie Cheung but she was a pioneer "Dragon Lady."
Garavani (Italian). Ensemble, autumn/winter 1990-1 haute couture.
Jacket and shirt of beige silk satin and organza, embroidered
with brown and gold silk yarn and metal thread, red-orange, gold,
blouse, and silver plastic sequins, beads and crystals. Courtesy of
Valentino S. p. A.
of Givenchy (French) Alexander McQueen (British). Dress,
autumn/winter 1997-8 haute couture. Black silk taffeta
embroidered with black glass beads and crystals, black polychrome
printed silk-cotton screen, black synthetic lkace. Courtesy of Givenchy.
Chinese. 1917-1920. Black silk satin embroidered with
polychrome silk and appliqué of red rooster feathers and pink silk
flowers. Courtesy ofMusée de la Mode et du Textile, UFAC collection. Les Arts Décoratifs, Paris
Valentino Garavani (Italian). Hat, autumn/winter 1993-4, black feathers, Courtesy Valentino S. p. D.
summer court hat with peacock feather. Chinese, late
19-Century-early 20th Century. Red basketry, pink and green
glass; peacock feather. The Metropolitan Museum of Art, Gift of Alica Boney