The Met unveils “a fashion anthology” – WWD


Defining moments in 19th- and 20th-century American fashion presenter “In America: An Anthology of Fashion,” but nine acclaimed directors presented these designs in a more current light.

Encompassing 100 examples of men’s and women’s clothing, the show explores some of the untold and incomplete stories about American fashion from the 19th to the mid to late 20th century. Opened in 1924, the American Wing of the museum comprises three floors of finely decorated rooms designed to give visitors a dose of time travel to the past. The wing now has 21 period rooms that span 300 years, though they have been given broader narratives that touch on gender, race, and class. But the exhibition is contained on the first floor with film vignettes from the directors of some period rooms interspersed with case studies.

During a Sunday afternoon preview, Costume Institute curator Wendy Yu, Andrew Bolton, said: “A lot of names are not known. The ultimate ambition is to make the history of fashion think differently and think about it in a more nuanced way, and not accept received stories…many of these women in this exhibit were important and influential in their time. But they just seem to have been forgotten and neglected.

The second installment of a year-long exhibition dedicated to American fashion that marks the 75th anniversary of the Costume Institute, “In America: An Anthology of Fashion” delves into the foundation of American fashion as it relates to the complicated histories of American Wing period rooms. “They seem effortless, but the amount of decisions and micro-decisions that were made was amazing,” Bolton said. “It was one of the most complicated shows we’ve ever done, but rewarding.”

The list of top talent includes Martin Scorsese, who dreamed up a cocktail party in a 20th-century drawing room by Frank Lloyd Wright adorned with mannequins in Charles James dresses and a slightly menacing male figure peering in from the outside. Chloé Zhao has recreated an 1830s Shaker retreat room with mannequins wearing Claire McCardell and a levitating figure meant to be reminiscent of Mother Ann Lee.

Don’t miss Tom Ford’s version of “The Battle of Versailles,” the 1973 fashion showdown between American and European designers at Versailles. Ford reinvented chrome airborne fencing and martial arts dummies in the air with a Stephen Burrows dress and other models that were shown in The Battle of Versailles in the gallery with the 1819 Panoramic View of Versailles from John Vanderlyn. Another outstanding example is Janicza Bravo’s reimagining of the Rococo Revival Parlor with works by Marguery Bolhagen and the design-laden neo-Gothic library by Elizabeth Hawes. A few cans of spinach are slipped into the display as a nod to Hawes’ book “Fashion Is Spinach.” Bolton said: “She brilliantly captured Elizabeth Hawes’ sense of humor. There are so many layers and all these little clues. A model wears Hawes’ obituary pinned. She designed a dress for Wrigley Spearmint gum, so there is a Wrigley Spearmint gum wrapper. There is the [1932 ‘Ten Minutes to Live’] film by the first black director to have made a film in Hollywood, Oscar Micheaux. There’s also a sweater that Elizabeth designed for a male customer to wear to the Los Angeles club in the 1970s that has a phone number. He is draped over a bench seat. If you had to spell it, it says f–k you. There are plenty of subtleties. This is the case in every room.

“One of the brightest things about working with directors is that they watch every shot,” Bolton said. “They consider every detail and think about how you experience it. Even though there are static mannequins, they try to convey dynamism through these really subtle details.

Often asked: “What is American fashion?” How do you define American fashion? Bolton said: “What people want is a very universal, low-key definition, which you can’t [define]. American fashion is so many different things. But what this exhibit does is set the stage for that. People’s perception of American fashion and this idea of ​​utility, practicality and functionality, which was a concrete thing that emerged, especially in the 1930s and 1940s through Dorothy Shaver. It’s certainly a definition of American fashion but it’s not the definition of American fashion.

One of the case studies refers to the 1932 “American Fashion for American Women” campaign launched by the late Lord & Taylor executive Shaver. Vera Maxwell, Bonnie Cashin and McCardell are among the featured designers.

“Even in the 1930s and 1940s when Dorothy Shaver was promoting this initiative, there were other designers who didn’t participate but did their own thing and often wore custom clothing. This story [which is also featured in the exhibition] I am really happy. It challenges the history of American sportswear tradition,” Bolton said.

Sofia Coppola dove into the McKim, Mead and White Stair Hall and Worsham-Rockefeller Dressing Room with a focus on clothing from Franziska Noll Gross and Mathias Rock and other designers. Coppola recruited sculptor Rachel Feinstein to create distinctive faces on the mannequins, which painter John Currin touched up. Julie Dash did the honors in the Greek Revival Parlor and the Renaissance Revival Room. The latter features four designs by the little-known Ann Lowe, who created Olivia de Havilland’s 1947 Oscar gown and Jacqueline Kennedy’s 1953 wedding dress. Veils tending to each of Lowe’s designs.

Regina King has recreated a 19th-century living room in Richmond, Va., with three dresses by Fannie Criss Payne, born in 1867 to once-enslaved parents. In the Richmond Room, visitors will hear Amanda Gorman and King read “& So” and “Call Us” from Gorman’s “Call Us What We Carry” poetry collection. Autumn de Wilde handled the Baltimore and Benkard venues with wit.

And Radha Blank projected black women’s hands onto an LP Hollander & Co. wedding dress. As Blank noted on a sign: “Hands that by day made clothes and cleaned white houses, and at night, ‘catching babies’ and conjuring up African spiritual practices that were not meant to survive the Middle Passage.”

Open to the public on May 7, the exhibit will run through September 5, which will also be the closing date for part one, “In America: A Lexicon of Fashion.” If the well-known filmmakers weren’t enough to spark interest in the spring parade, the star-studded celebration of American fashion will attract massive media attention at Monday night’s Met Gala. And before that drumbeat, First Lady Jill Biden was enlisted to attend the media preview of the exhibit on Monday morning.

By spotlighting unsung designers such as Lowe, the Met appears to be attempting to right some of the wrongs in American history, much like a host of other museums and cultural institutions. Bolton said: “It’s about reinterpreting, not correcting. It is simply about re-addressing and presenting a nuanced interpretation of American fashion. Rather, it is about re-addressing some of these forgotten and hidden designers,” citing Lowe, Hawes, Eta Hentz, Bolhagen and others.

While some of the designers featured like Halston, Oscar de la Renta, Anne Klein, Bill Blass and Brooks Bothers will be household names to brand-conscious visitors, others like Bolhagen, Payne, Hawes, Madame Olympe, Hentz and Jessie Franklin Turner will not. Doubt account for many Google searches. Even creative examples from American stalwarts such as Norman Norell, McCardell, Nettie Rosenstein, and even Burrows can inspire gallery-goers to explore more online.

In addition to the filmmakers’ period rooms, there are six “case studies” in the American Wing galleries that focus on historic clothing that reflects the development of American fashion from the 19th to the mid to late 1900s. 20th century. Two Brooks Brothers coats, one worn by an unidentified slave, are on display. This controversial piece of clothing is housed at the entrance to the show, along with a set worn by George Washington and another that belonged to Abraham Lincoln. Another key feature is the Costume Institute Collection’s first American creation that bears a label identifying the designer – a circa 1865 dress by New Orleans dressmaker Madame Olympe.

Stephen Jones created all the helmets. Just as fashion is still often about collaborations, so is museum curation. Bolton curated Part 2 with Costume Institute Associate Curator Jessica Regan, Marica F. Vilcek Curator of American Decorative Arts, and Ratti Textile Center Supervising Curator Amelia Peck with support from curator Lawrence A. Fleischman in charge of the American wing Sylvia Yount.

Shane Valentino of Lamb Design Studio oversaw the design of both parts of the exhibit with the Met’s design department. And cinematographer Bradford Young (whose portfolio includes “Selma” and “When They See Us”) teamed up with Valentino for the lighting. Franklin Leonard, movie director and founder of The Black List, worked as an advisor on the exhibit.

Bolton said: “This one took a huge, huge team because we were working with nine creative directors. They all have their creative opinions.

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