Masterworks: Unpacking fashion at the Met

Renee Minus White | 11/24/2016, midnight
On view from now through Feb. 5, 2017, the Costume Institute at the Metropolitan Museum of Art introduces their fall ...
Designs from Masterworks: Unpacked fashion Contributed

On view from now through Feb. 5, 2017, the Costume Institute at the Metropolitan Museum of Art introduces their fall 2016 exhibition, “Masterworks: Unpacking Fashion.” It’s a small, simply designed exhibit that shows fashion as art. The exhibition features approximately 60 pieces. The looks are opulent.

“Our mission is to present fashion as living art that interprets history, becomes part of the process and inspires subsequent art,” said Andrew Bolton, curator in charge.

The Costume Institute has been a part of the Met since 1946. Their collection strategy has shifted from creating a collection of Western high fashion to one that focuses on acquiring a body of masterworks.

The show opens in the main Lizzie and Jonathan Tisch Gallery and is organized chronologically, with ensembles shown on wooden platforms that resemble oversized pack crates. The show includes womenswear as well as menswear. Some boots and shoes are unbelievably high, enhanced with platforms and spike heels. Some pieces are newly acquired and are exhibited with the Museum’s collection. One highlighted display shows a dress designed by John Galliano for Maison Margiela from the 2015 collection exhibited with a Cristobal Balenciaga gown from 1964.

In honor of former curator in charge, Harold Koda, who retired January 2016, various designers present exquisite fashion pieces that are shown in the Carl and Iris Apfel Gallery.

“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,” said Assistant Curator Jessica Regan. “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.” The exhibition is featured on the museum’s website at www.metmuseum.org/fashionMasterworks.

The exhibit focuses on the 20th and 21st centuries. In the show, the featured designers have expanded the possibilities for fashion, either conceptually or through innovative construction and techniques. It’s an interesting peek at extraordinary looks, and a nice show for the family during the holidays.