One of the best ways to keep cool during a New York City summer is by spending an afternoon at a museum. Here are a few exhibitions that are going on this summer that relate to fashion, costume, and textiles.
Metropolitan Museum of Art
China: Through the Looking Glass*
Exhibition Dates: May 7 – August 16, 2015
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.
*Image and exhibition information is from the Metropolitan Museum of Art website.
Museum of Arts and Design
Ralph Pucci: The Art of the Mannequin*
Exhibition Dates: March 31 – August 30, 2015
Ralph Pucci: The Art of the Mannequin will be the first museum exhibition to explore the work of renowned New York-based designer Ralph Pucci, who is widely regarded for his innovative approach to the familiar form of the mannequin. Having collaborated with luminaries such as Diane von Furstenberg, Patrick Naggar, Andrée Putman, Kenny Scharf, Anna Sui, Isabel and Ruben Toledo and Christy Turlington, Pucci’s mannequins not only expand the parameters of this ubiquitous sculptural form, but reflect major cultural trends of the past three decades.
As Pucci was building his business in the 1970s, the notion of the “super model”—the living mannequin with a personality—emerged. Pucci captured this catalytic moment in his work, finding inspiration from sources as varied as Greek and Roman statues and the performance costumes of the New York Dolls. Pucci personified the previously anonymous form in new and challenging ways, creating visions of physical beauty that were more specific, empowered, and diverse than the fashion industry had previously allowed. More than commercial armatures or sculptural forms, his mannequins became agents of change in our attitudes to the body, to fashion, and to individual identity.
The Art of the Mannequin will include over 30 of Pucci’s most important mannequins, as well as an in-gallery recreation of his sculpture studio. Pucci’s master sculptor and longtime collaborator, Michael Evert, will be in residence during the exhibition’s run to give visitors a first-hand look at the creative process, from initial modeling in clay to the rendering of the fiberglass end-product. In conjunction with the installation of mannequins the renowned designers Isabel and Ruben Toledo will curate a selection of jewelry from MAD’s collection which will be installed on Ruben’s famous surrealist jewelry mannequins.
*Image and exhibition information is from the Museum of Arts and Design website.
Museum of the Moving Image
Matthew Weiner’s Mad Men*
Exhibition Dates: March 14 – September 6, 2015
This new major exhibition explores the creative process behind Mad Men, one of the most acclaimed television series of all time, now launching its final seven episodes on AMC. Featuring large-scale sets including Don Draper’s office and the kitchen from the Draper’s Ossining home, more than 25 iconic costumes, props, video clips, advertising art, and personal notes and research material from series creator Matthew Weiner, the exhibition offers unique insight into the series’ origins, and how its exceptional storytelling and remarkable attention to period detail resulted in a vivid portrait of an era and the characters who lived through it. The Museum’s exhibition marks the first time objects relating to the production of Mad Men will be shown in public on this scale.
To avoid lines on weekend days, visitors are encouraged to arrive before 2:00 p.m.
*Image and exhibition information is from the Museum of the Moving Image website.