China: Through the Looking Glass

As we know, the main event of the year, in regards to fashion, is the Met Gala, or the Met Ball. The guests get a first glance of the exhibit in the Costume Institute, where there is a specific theme every year. This year it was Chinese fashion, and how the culture and traditions have affected the global fashion trends.

The exhibit is presented on three floors, where each floor has a separate theme. The museum gives you a wholesome experience with breathtaking garments and headpieces. There are also dresses made out of traditional plates. Yes, plates. Porcelain plates. Many of the dresses were displayed with a traditional garment in the back, as a looking glass.

Here is what the Met Museum website writes about the exhibit:

This exhibition explores the impact of Chinese aesthetics on Western fashion and how China has fueled the fashionable imagination for centuries. In this collaboration between The Costume Institute and the Department of Asian Art, high fashion is juxtaposed with Chinese costumes, paintings, porcelains, and other art, including films, to reveal enchanting reflections of Chinese imagery.

From the earliest period of European contact with China in the sixteenth century, the West has been enchanted with enigmatic objects and imagery from the East, providing inspiration for fashion designers from Paul Poiret to Yves Saint Laurent, whose fashions are infused at every turn with romance, nostalgia, and make-believe. Through the looking glass of fashion, designers conjoin disparate stylistic references into a pastiche of Chinese aesthetic and cultural traditions.

The exhibition features more than 140 examples of haute couture and avant-garde ready-to-wear alongside Chinese art. Filmic representations of China are incorporated throughout to reveal how our visions of China are framed by narratives that draw upon popular culture, and also to recognize the importance of cinema as a medium through which to understand the richness of Chinese history.

The exhibit just got extended to September, according to the Met Museum website, so if you’re in the city, you should definitely make some time to see the impressive and extensive curation.

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