When you first enter the Costume Institute’s opening gallery that’s exhibiting “China: Through the Looking Glass,” you see the Mao suit, created after Mao Zedong. You will be surprised at the magnitude of this extraordinary exhibit. It’s spread out on three floors in the Chinese Galleries and Anna Wintour Costume Center. It is an epic collaboration between the Costume Institute and the Department of Asian Art, with high fashion juxtaposed with Chinese costumes, paintings, porcelains and other art.

Another facet of the exhibition are the films and music, which help to reveal enchanting reflections of Chinese imagery. To open the exhibit, the Met presented a major gala recently. All the stars were out, including Rihanna, Jay Z and Beyonce. Exhibition dates run now through Aug. 16.

“From the earliest period of European contact with China in the 16th Century, the West has been enchanted with enigmatic objects and imagery from the East, providing inspiration for designers from Paul Poiret to Yves Saint Laurent, whose fashions are infused at every turn with romance, nostalgia and make-believe,” said Andrew Bolton, curator with the Costume Institute. “Through the looking glass of fashion, designers conjoin disparate stylistic references into a fantastic pastiche of Chinese and cultural traditions.”

The title is inspired by Lewis Carroll’s “Through the Looking Glass” and “What Alice Found There” (1871). In his story, the heroine enters an imaginary, alternative universe by climbing through a mirror in her house. Imagine climbing through your mirror at home and what the world would be like. It’s like a fairy tale, yet extremely beautiful.

In the exhibit, the backgrounds are mirrored, glossy, glassy, see-through and colorful. On fashion mannequins, you enjoy viewing the backs of costumes through the mirrors. Fashions are intricately detailed with trains and embellishments. Think of an imaginative wonderland at its best in a real make-believe world. You also get a close-up view of the exquisite fabrics that were worn in public in China during this period. Stylistically, there was lots of inspiration from the practice of Orientalism. Cinema is a wonderful conduit for this reciprocal exchange. Even the film “Madame Butterfly” comes to mind. This exhibit highlights China’s influence on the world of fashions and beauty.

“I am excited about this partnership between two forward-thinking departments which reveals provocative new insights into the West’s fascination with China,” said Thomas P. Campbell, director and CEO of the Metropolitan Museum of Art. “The artistic direction of acclaimed filmmaker Wong Kar-wai takes visitors on a cinematic journey through our galleries, where high fashion is shown along side masterworks of Chinese art.”

British milliner Stephen Jones was commissioned by the museum to create headpieces in the exhibition. He relocated several symbols that were placed on the imperial costumes of the emperor.

There were strict rules about placement on the heads of the mannequins that had to be honored. This heady gear appears as three-dimensional sculptural forms.

Good Show!