Friday, June 26, 2015

China Through the Looking Glass

With the help of sponsors Condé Nast, YAHOO!, and various Chinese donors, the Metropolitan Museum of Art is currently showcasing a whimsical exhibition of Chinese–inspired couture that is… 
awe-inspiring (for lack of a better word). To help celebrate the 100th anniversary of the Department of Asian Art, the Costume Institute collaborated to carefully craft the exhibition, which spans several galleriess and floors featuring everything from Yves Saint Laurent to the House of Dior, Roberto Cavalli, Chanel, and even Ralph Lauren (to name a few). 

Every designer stayed true to his/her iconic aesthetic, but often with a beautifully bizarre touch of Chinese flair or quirky take on Chinese traditions such as blue and white porcelain (there's a dress made completely of it), opium, and Ming furniture. Each design was more lavish and over-the-top compared to the next and carefully curated with contrasting traditional Chinese artifacts and American films with Chinese imagery that add a level of playful irony. The costumes are beautiful albeit highly inaccurate appropriation of Chinese costumes, but that's exactly the point. The purpose of the exhibition isn't to celebrate the traditional Chinese dress; it's a costume exhibition in every sense of the word. 

Note: With so much glass and lighting, my photos don't do these costumes justice!

Who: The Metropolitan Museum of Art, sponsors Condé Nast, YAHOO, and Chinese Donors, countless designers including Yves Saint Laurent, House of Dior, Roberto Cavalli, Chanel, and Ralph Lauren (to name a few), and of course, Anna Wintour
Where: The Metropolitan Museum of Art (walk through the Egyptian gallery)
When: Until August 16, 2015
Why: It's not an exhibition about China or Chinese clothing in a traditional sense, but through the fantasized looking glass of the beautiful world of couture. 

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