Masterworks: Unpacking Fashion – The Met Fifth Avenue, NY

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Viktor&Rolf, Cutting Edge Couture, Spring–Summer Collection 2010, courtesy The Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York

Masterworks: Unpacking Fashion an exhibition on show now in The Costume Institute at The Met Fifth Avenue, New York until February 5, 2017, features acquisitions of costume to their historic collections, many made over the past decade, purchased from designers who have advanced fashion as an art form. Before that time the focus of the collection was mainly Eurocentric. The exhibition highlights approximately sixty masterworks from the early 18th century to the present day.

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Gallery View, Stairwell Entryway, courtesy The Metropolitan Museum of Art

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

The range includes garments by Dutch dynamic duo Viktor & Rolf, whose world premiere exhibition is currently on show in Australia at NGV International, where they have succinctly proved that fashion is art.

A Ball Gown produced for their spring/summer collection 2010, was integral to what became known as their ‘Amsterdam Chainsaw Massacre, certainly not for the feint hearted, which does however have a charm of its own.

The primary focus will be as ever on women’s wear, although some men’s wear ensembles and a selection of accessories will both help to provide an in-depth explanation of its significance within the canon of fashion history.

Arranged chronologically, some ensembles will be shown in packing crates or on palettes, as though they have just arrived at The Met.

Sarah Burton, Creative Director for Alexander McQueen who worked alongside McQueen for 14 years and designed the wedding dress for the Duchess of Cambridge, has continued McQueen’s legacy since his tragic death in 2010.

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Sarah Burton for Alexander McQueen, Butterfly Dress, 2011

Burton is represented by a mid-thigh dress from her First Spring Collection for the house of Alexander McQueen featuring butterflies, hand-painted beauties fluttering around the shoulders and shaping its silhouette.

It’s a wonderful evocation of nature combining fantasy and fashion, a real showstopper from her first collection when she was appointed to lead the brand forward.

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Jean-Philippe Worth, Ball gown, 1898, courtesy The Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York

A lovely gown by Jean-Phillippe Worth for the House of Worth in 1898, reveals the style, elegance and beauty of the gowns they had produced since the days of founding the by now renowned fashion house.

English designer Charles Frederic Worth left London for Paris where in 1858 he established his own ladies’ tailor shop. Through the Princess Metternich wife of the Austrian ambassador to France, he gained the patronage of Empress Eugénie, wife of Napoleon III (1808-1873) of France (nephew/heir)

Worth became one of the first couture dressmakers in history to prepare and show a collection in advance and the first man to become internationally famous in the field of fashion. He pioneered designing dresses to be copied in French workrooms and distributed throughout the world – ready to wear.

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Gallery View, Nineteenth Century, courtesy The Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York

“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.

Carolyn McDowall, The Culture Concept Circle, 2016

Masterworks: Unpacking Fashion

Costume Institute Exhibition
The Met Fifth Avenue, New York

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Designers in the exhibition include Azzedine Alaïa, Cristóbal Balenciaga, Geoffrey Beene, Thom Browne, Sarah Burton (Alexander McQueen), Antonio del Castillo (Lanvin-Castillo), Hussein Chalayan, Tom Ford, Jean Paul Gaultier, John Galliano (John Galliano and Maison Margiela), Nicolas Ghesquière (Balenciaga), Halston, Charles James, Rei Kawakubo (Comme des Garçons), Karl Lagerfeld (House of Chanel), Jeanne Lanvin, Christian Louboutin, Maison Margiela, Alexander McQueen, Issey Miyake, Paul Poiret, Zandra Rhodes, Yves Saint Laurent (House of Dior), Elsa Schiaparelli, Raf Simons (House of Dior), Hedi Slimane (Saint Laurent), Noritaka Tatehana, Philip Treacy, Iris van Herpen, Viktor Horsting and Rolf Snoeren (Viktor & Rolf), Gianni Versace, Madeleine Vionnet, Vivienne Westwood & Malcolm McLaren (Let it Rock), Jean-Philippe Worth (House of Worth), and Yohji Yamamoto.

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