Posted by Stephan Moskovic | May 5th, 2015

China has stood out in many Western portrayals as a land of mystery, whether warranted or not. There has been a yearning to learn more about the Far East in a way that steers clear from misrepresentation and focuses on the beauty of its deep rooted culture. With the Costume Institute’s latest China Through the Looking Glass exhibit (on display at the Met from May 7 to August 16, 2015), curator Andrew Bolton and his team took on the daunting task of creating an immersive experience for the viewer that equally inspires as it does teach. With over 140 pieces of couture and ready-to-wear placed side-by-side with Chinese paintings, sculptures, and recreated architecture, the results are a visually stimulating fusion courtesy of a collaboration with acclaimed director Wong Kar Wai serving as artistic director and Academy Award nominated production designer Nathan Crowley.

Presented in the Museum’s Chinese Galleries and the newly decreed Anna Wintour Costume Center, the labyrinth-like exhibition reveals the impact of centuries of Chinese culture influencing Western fashion at every turn. For this joint effort between The Costume Institute and the Department of Asian Art, the Metropolitan Museum of Art pulled out all the stops – it is larger than any previous exhibition, ambitiously expanding throughout the Costume Center and the galleries dedicated to Chinese art. With pieces loaned from Yves Saint Laurent, Dior, Alexander McQueen, Jean Paul Gaultier, Roberto Cavalli, and many more, and with headpieces created specially for the exhibit by Stephen Jones; you’ll see something for everyone, from the fashion enthusiast to the curious spectator.

Photos by Betty Sze for
Text by Irene Ojo-Felix

Cover: dress by Guo Pei

Maxwell K Hearn, Marissa Mayer, Thomas Campbell, Anna Wintour, Silas Chou, Andrew Bolton, Wendy Murdoch, Wong Kar Wai

Red blazer – Ralph Lauren F/W 2011

Dress – Laurence Xu, 2011

Gold dress – Dior, designer John Galliano, F/W 1998

Black and gold dress – Dries Van Noten F/W 2012

Silk black/purple dress – YSL, designer Tom Ford F/W 2004

Blue flowered dress – Dior, designer John Galliano, F/W 1997

Dior, designer John Galliano, F/W 1997

Left: Red guard uniform, Chinese, 1966 | Right: Dior, designer John Galliano, S/S 1999

Black lace dress – Ralph Lauren F/W 2011

Right: Dress – Paul Smith F/W 2011

Dresses Vivienne Tam S/S 1995 | Center artwork Andy Warhol 1973

Coco Chanel, 1956

Christian Dior, 1951

Alexander McQueen F/W 2006

Guo Pei Spring 2010 Haute Couture

Antique Chinese porcelain

Giambattista Valli Fall 2013 Haute Couture

Roberto Cavalli F/W 2005

Antique Chinese perfume bottle

Red Lace – Valentino, designers Maria Grazia Chiuri and Pierpaolo Piccioli “Shanghai” collection 2013

Givenchy, designer Alexander McQueen, 1997 Haute Couture

Givenchy, designer Alexander McQueen, 1997 Haute Couture

Craig Green S/S 2015

Craig Green S/S 2015


3 Comments to “China: Through the Looking Glass”

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