Nov 18, 2016
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The Costume Institute opens its fall 2016 Masterworks exhibit

Nov 18, 2016

The Costume Institute on Friday opens its Masterworks: Unpacking Fashion fall 2016 exhibition. The exhibit was first announced in July and had its opening date pushed back from November 8 to November 18, 2016. Fashion Network was on hand for a preview of the exhibit Thursday morning, which included remarks from Curator in Charge Andrew Bolton and Assistant Curator Jessica Regan
Masterworks features 60 iconic ensembles from designers and ateliers such as Chanel, Balenciaga, Versace, Maison Margiela, Comme des Garçons and Thom Browne and others that have advanced fashion as an art form. The exhibit highlights pieces from designers Raf Simons for Dior, Demna Gvasalia for Balenciaga, and Alexander McQueen among others and matching ensembles that served as inspiration for the designers or share attributes with the pieces.

The exhibition begins with designs from the late 18th century to highlight techniques that have since come to dominate contemporary haute couture.

Assistant Curator Jessica Regan displayed the ensembles in chronological order dating as early as the late eighteenth century with looks from France and England. The earliest looks explore the tailoring and details that were common in eighteenth century ensembles like slim fit suits for men that were darted to exaggerate a slimmer waist and women’s dresses that retained details found on men’s tailored garments.
Masterworks then heads to the nineteenth century with pieces from Europe with a spotlight on a House of Worth ball gown made in 1898 by Jean-Phillippe Worth, who is noted to be the founder of haute couture. The satin silk gown features silver sequins and clear rhinestones that shimmer in the light and a butterfly pattern.

Evening dresses from John Galliano and Madeleine Vionnet follow Worth’s couture dress and begin the twentieth century portion that also includes an ensemble from Lanvin that appeared in Harper’s Bazaar in 1956 for the “Paris Bares the Shoulders” editorial, a wooden dress from Yohji Yamamoto, dresses from Hussain Chalayan, a punk-inspired dress from Versace during the punk movement’s revival, and a framed shirt from Vivienne Westwood. Two looks from Alexander McQueen are positioned next to each other in the exhibit’s right wing to begin the twenty-first century portion.

Haute couture evening dress from Madeleine Vionnet (left) and John Galliano's peach nylon dress (right) that it inspired

McQueen’s orange wool twill printed jacket inspired by the film The Birds sits next to a black, silk butterfly patterned dress from Sarah Burton for Alexander McQueen. The twenty-first century looks include shoes from Christian Louboutin and Versace and tailored ensembles from Chanel, Thom Browne, and Demna Gvasalia for Balenciaga.
The final room of Masterworks is a touching tribute to Harold Koda, the former Costume Institute in Curator in Charge who retired in January 2016 after serving for 15 years. The Harold Koda Gift room features looks that were donated to the Costume Institute in honor of Koda’s retirement, and includes dresses and ensembles from Dior, Jean-Paul Gaultier, Iris van Herpen and Tom Ford among others. A digital display shows additional pieces donated to the Costume Institute in honor of Koda’s retirement and quotes from the designers and donators that shared words about Koda’s influence on the Costume Institute and fashion as a whole.

Jean-Paul Gaultier wedding gown donated to the Costume Institute in honor of Harold Koda's retirement as Curator in Charge

The contributions include works from Haider Ackermann, Giorgio Armani, Phoebe Philo for Celine, Domenico Dolce and Stefano Gabbana for Dolce & Gabbana, Riccardo Tisci for Givenchy, Marc Jacobs, Christopher Kane, Issey Miyake, Rick Owens, Miuccia Prada, Jack McCollough and Lazaro Hernandez for Proenza Schouler, Kate and Laura Mulleavy for Rodarte, Philip Tracy, Maria Grazia Chiuri and Pierpaolo Piccoli for Valentino, Nicolas Ghesquiére for Louis Vuitton, Junya Watanabe and Gareth Pugh among others.
Masterworks is an exploration of the advancement of fashion design and how works from the past have influenced the future. The exhibit features ensembles that can serve as the starting point of the encyclopedia of fashion and give a small glimpse into what the future of fashion design holds.
Masterworks: Unpacking Fashion is on display at the Metropolitan Museum of Art's Costume Institute from November 18, 2016 through February 5, 2017. 

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