China: Through the Looking Glass at the MET Museum

The Costume Institute’s spring 2015 exhibition, ‘China: Through the Looking Glass’ will be on view at The Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York from May 7 through August 16, 2015. The exhibition was preceded by the Costume Institute Benefit Gala on May 4, 2015. On display in the museum’s Chinese Galleries and the Anna Wintour Costume Center, the exhibition explores the impact of Chinese aesthetic principles on Western fashion and how it has fueled the imagination of the fashion industry for centuries. High fashion is juxtaposed with Chinese costumes, paintings, porcelains, films, and other art, to reveal enchanting reflections of Chinese imagery with more than 140 examples of haute couture and ready-to-wear pieces. Andrew Bolton, curator of the Costume Institute, says of the exhibit, “Through the looking glass of fashion, designers conjoin disparate stylistic references into a fantastic pastiche of Chinese aesthetic and cultural traditions.”

Designers in the exhibit include Alexander McQueen, Cristobal Balenciaga, John Galliano, Jean Paul Gaultier, Marc Jacobs, Jeanne Lanvin, Martin Margiela, Dries Van Noten, Jason Wu, and many more. Acclaimed filmmaker Wong Kar-Wai is the exhibition’s Artistic Director, working with longtime collaborator William Chang, who is in charge of supervising the styling.

The exhibit includes filmic representations of China to reveal how our visions of China are shaped by narratives that draw upon popular culture, and to recognize the importance of cinema as a medium through which we understand the richness of Chinese history. A series of “mirrored reflections” is also part of the display, illustrated with scenes from films by groundbreaking Chinese directors like Zhang Yimou, Chen Kaige, Ang Lee, and Wong Kar Wai. Distinct vignettes are devoted to “women of style,” including Hu Die (known as Butterfly Wu), Oei Huilan (the former Madame Wellington Koo), and Soong May-Ling (Madame Chiang Kai-shek).

The exhibition is a collaboration between The Costume Institute and the Department of Asian Art. It is organized by organized by Andrew Bolton, Curator, with the support of Harold Koda, Curator in Charge.

Quotes:

“As Chinese filmmakers we hope to create a show that is an Empire of Signs–filled with meaning for both East and West to discover and decipher.” – Wong Kar-Wai

“Through the looking glass of fashion, designers conjoin disparate stylistic references into a fantastic pastiche of Chinese aesthetic and cultural traditions.” – Andrew Bolton

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