‘Unpacking Fashion’ Brings Style to Life

By Adam Travis, Contributing Writer

The Costume Institute at the Metropolitan Museum of Art rarely disappoints. Their newest exhibit, “Masterworks: Unpacking Fashion,” is no exception. The exhibit, which opened to the public on Friday, November 18th, features 60 fashion masterworks spanning three centuries, each handpicked by Andrew Bolton, curator in charge of the Costume Institute and Jessica Regan, the assistant curator.

The Costume Institute is responsible for past renowned exhibitions such as “Alexander Mcqueen: Savage Beauty” in 2011, which celebrated the life of Alexander Mcqueen and his revolutionary designs and “China: Through the Looking Glass” which aimed to open the public’s eyes to the history and culture of China through fashion in 2014. With “Masterworks: Unpacking Fashion,” Andrew Bolton and the Costume Institute have another home run on their hands.

With the help of Anna Wintour, the editor-in-chief of Vogue, Bolton approached 30 different designers in search of pieces with the utmost artistic merit. They weren’t only trying to make the best possible exhibit for the public — Andrew calls the exhibit a “love poem” to his predecessor Harold Koda, former curator in charge of the Costume Institute.

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Photo by Adam Travis

The exhibit is organized in chronological order beginning with the 18th century. The fashion from this time period features heavy embellishments, embroidery and fine textiles. Moving on, the 19th century section features more cut, construction and finishing, due to rapid technological advances in the production of clothing.

As the displays approach modern-day time periods, the fashion styles become more recognizable. Some of the dresses in the exhibit have even been worn in recent years by celebrities on red carpets or seen on the runways of fashion shows across the world.

Designers included in the exhibit include Azzedine Alaia, Alexander McQueen, Balenciaga, Chanel, Christian Dior, Commes des Garcons, Maison Margiela, Tom Ford, Thom Browne, Versace, Vivienne Westwood and Yves Saint Laurent, among many others. Browne was actually walking around the exhibit on the day of the press preview on the morning of Nov. 17. Mr Browne has some of the only menswear featured in the entire exhibit.

Some of the most notable pieces in the collection include a Viktor & Rolfe dress that greets viewers as they descend the stairs into the exhibit, a crocodile-trimmed jacket by Yves Saint Laurent for House of Dior, a black Versace dress once famously worn by Lady Gaga, a menswear suit by Thom Browne, a butterfly inspired dress by Sarah Burton for Alexander Mcqueen, a black-and-white suit by Chanel and an avant-garde red dress by Rei Kawakubo for Commes des Garcons.

Although there are stand out pieces, the time and effort put into this collection is very evident. Every single masterwork in the exhibit is extremely intriguing.

The exhibit is currently open to the public until February 5, 2017 at the Metropolitan Museum of Art at 1000 Fifth Ave.

Email Adam Travis at entertainment@nyunews.com.

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