High Fashion Exhibit at The Met! China: Through the Looking Glass

By Contributor Jennifer E. Calling all fashionistas and art lovers. The Metropolitan Museum of Art is currently hosting one of their biggest and best exhibitions yet, and it’s all about the big-name designers you love most. Well, almost.

Guo Pei gold ballgown


Titled China: Through the Looking Glass, the Met’s spring/summer exhibition introduces visitors to Chinese culture and shows off some of the most glamorous gowns that designers have created in response to Chinese culture and art. If you’ve always wanted to see designs by Christian Dior, Alexander McQueen, Tom Ford, Roberto Cavalli, Coco Chanel, Ralph Lauren, or Yves Saint Laurent together in the same space, then head to the Metropolitan Museum today!

A Panoply of Designers

Over 140 examples of haute couture by 40 separate designers are displayed in the Costume Institute basement galleries and the second floor Chinese galleries. This is the largest special exhibition the Costume Institute has ever produced. Enter through the Chinese galleries and you will instantly be awed by the beauty of the works on display, as well as the sheer number of designs. From form-fitting colourful dresses to full golden ball gowns, and everything in-between, the outfits on view are simply stunning. Guo Pei’s (China’s most renowned female designer) sparkling gold lame ballgown gets its own room in the Chinese galleries, attracting many oohs-and-ahhs from passersby.

In the Astor Court, dresses by John Galliano, colored in vibrant turquoise and orange or pale pink and cream, send their ruffled reflections into the mirrored black glass floor, giving the impression of a water-surrounded temple space. Just beyond, Valentino’s Shanghai collection of sexy red sheer lace dresses are enough to make any girl want to climb into the dresses for herself.

house of dior at met exhibit

Eastern Influence, Western Design

The Met’s exhibition is done so perfectly that it may take a fashionista a few minutes to realize she’s seeing both gorgeous modern dresses and breathtaking art and artifacts, some hundreds or thousands of years old. Every work of Western design is accompanied by a work of Eastern influence. Why is that Chanel gown the colors it is? Because the porcelain blue and white bowls so popular in China (and displayed here opposite a collection of dresses) were the influence for the design. What made Valentino decide to create ensembles that are strikingly red with golden embroidery that make the outfit pop? Perhaps the inspiration comes from the Asian screens that are so intricately designed (and placed strategically right next to the outfits in the gallery). And the Dior square drop-neck white cocktail dress with black calligraphic symbols running its length? Well that’s obvious – examples of the ancient Chinese writing sit on display in the same case.

blue and white  porcelain met exhibit

Fashion and Art Reign

If you’ve never considered fashion to be art, or if you’ve never thought that art could influence fashion, then head to the Metropolitan Museum of Art, and you’ll be pleasantly surprised that the two can, in fact, go hand in hand. Yes, you can find hints of a Buddha sculpture in a golden ballgown. Yep, even the floral wallpaper that is so Asian in design can be transformed into a wearable dress. And those funky off-colored works by Andy Warhol? Oh yes – they’re transported to dress form too.

Come see what everyone’s talking about this summer: China: Through the Looking Glass is on view through September 6, 2015.

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