The latest exhibition at the New York Metropolitan Museum’s Costume Institute traces a century and a half of fashion.
About Time: Fashion and Duration, will be on show until February 7th, after a five month delayed opening from May due to the coronavirus.
Tracing fashion from 1870 to the present, the exhibition employs Henri Bergson’s concept of la durée (duration),exploring how clothes generate temporal associations that conflate past, present, and future. Virginia Woolf serves as the “ghost narrator” of the exhibition.
The timeline unfolds in two adjacent galleries fabricated as enormous clock faces and organised around the principle of 60 minutes of fashion. Each “minute” features a pair of garments, with the primary work representing the linear nature of fashion and the secondary work its cyclical character. To illustrate Bergson’s concept of duration—of the past co-existing with the present—the works in each pair are connected through shape, motif, material, pattern, technique, or decoration. For example, a black silk faille princess-line dress from the late 1870s is paired with an Alexander McQueen “Bumster” skirt from 1995. A black silk satin dress with enormous leg-o’-mutton sleeves from the mid-1890s is juxtaposed with a Comme des Garçons deconstructed ensemble from 2004.
All of the garments are black to emphasize changes in silhouette, except at the conclusion of the show, where a white dress from Viktor & Rolf’s spring/summer 2020 haute couture collection, made from upcycled swatches in a patchwork design, serves as a symbol for the future of fashion with its emphasis on community, collaboration, and sustainability.
Louis Vuitton, the show’s principal sponsor, has a leather dress from Creative Director Nicolas Ghesquire’s SS18 collection in the exhibition.
##The museum celebrates its 150th anniversary
This year also marks the Metropolitan Museum’s 150th anniversary. Earlier this month key components of its celebration were announced including major gifts of art from around the world; exhibitions and displays that will examine art, history, and culture through spectacular objects; and dynamic programs that will engage The Met’s local and global communities.
Daniel H. Weiss, the Museum’s President and CEO, said, “As we celebrate this milestone occasion, 150 years since our founding on April 13, 1870, we are grateful for the bold vision of our founders, who included a handful of New York City leaders and artists of the day. Over the course of the next 150 years, that vision grew into one of the most important cultural institutions in the world. This anniversary is an exciting moment to celebrate what The Met means to its audience, from the New Yorkers who enjoy the Museum regularly, to the millions of tourists who walk through our doors every year, to those who experience our offerings remotely. It is also an opportunity to reflect on our history, to plan thoughtfully for our future, and to say thank you.”
Max Hollein, Director of The Met, said, “The Museum’s anniversary is an occasion to celebrate this extraordinary institution, and appreciate the vibrancy and astounding depth and scope of its collection, scholarship, and programs. This moment is also a time to think deeply about our responsibilities as stewards of this exceptional resource, our commitment to cultivating the understanding and appreciation of art, and the ways in which we can illuminate the connections within cultural histories. The Met strives to be a seminal encyclopedic museum—of the world, for the world, and in the world—and we are grateful to everyone who supports us in achieving that goal.”
Image via Louis Vuitton