Some criticize fashion design as being something less than “real art” because it seems to be so ephemeral. But fashion, like literature and more traditional art, reflects the events and attitudes of the age in which it was created. Some creators of fashion design have transcended trendiness to take artistic risks and make statements about their lives and the world around them.
The Metropolitan Museum of Art’s Costume Institute will have about 60 of these pieces on display in the Anna Wintour Costume Center from November 18, 2016 through February 5, 2017. Masterworks: Unpacking Fashion will feature designs by Cristóbal Balenciaga, Tom Ford, Jean Paul Gaultier, Halston, Karl Lagerfeld, Jeanne Lanvin, Issey Miyake, Iris van Herpen, and Madeleine Vionnet, among many other luminaries in the field.
“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,” said exhibit curator Jessica Regan.
These are works by designers who we can say without exaggeration have changed the course of fashion history. Madeleine Vionnet, for example, was one of the most influential fashion designers of the 20th Century. Known as the “queen of the bias cut” for her technique of creating gorgeous and sensual-looking designs by cutting fabric on a line diagonal to the weave of the cloth. Her techniques and creations continue to have an influence on present-day fashion and, in fact, have influenced a number of the other designers in the exhibit. Her designs were worn by luminaries such as Marlene Dietrich and Joan Crawford.
The exhibit itself will have a pretty interesting design. The Tisch Gallery will be organized with pieces shown in packing crates and on pallets, as if they’d arrived just in time for the show. Regan and her co-curator plan to pair some of the newly acquired collection objects with pieces already in the collection to show the influence of historical silhouettes on subsequent fashion designers.
Although we wish there were more female designers featured in the show, we do think this will be an exemplary exhibit, and we’re looking forward to seeing it.