The Met Costume Exhibit: About Time – Fashion & Duration

The Metropolitan Museum of Art, commonly referred to as “The Met” is the largest art Museum in the United States. It was founded in 1870 and has housed some of the greatest works of art known to the fashion industry ever since.

From October 28 to February 2021, The Met is hosting their new exhibition entitled “About Time; Fashion & Duration” which traces fashion dating from 1870 to the present day. Our Infuse team was lucky enough to have witnessed the exhibition through a virtual tour which gave us the insight on some iconic pieces from over the last century.

The exhibit features 120 garments best representing the Met Costume Institute and is divided into 60 pairs mimicking the minutes on a clock. Majority of the garments featured are black in hue displayed on white mannequins for sleek contrast.

The first garment shown below, designed in 1877 by an unknown designer (as it was common to not know the designers behind pieces in that day), features a princess seam, form fitting – long waisted silhouette and of course, a bustle – very Victorian!

This riding jacket by Morin Bossier from 1902 is actually derived from menswear but you can see by the embroidery detail and silhouette how much men’s fashion has had a great impact on womenswear for centuries.

Throughout the exhibit we were exposed to different garments and how eventually, they would inspire a new generation of designers. Such is the case with this suit dress from 1918 and a piece from Marson Margiela S/S 2020 collection.

Fast forwarding to the late 1930s brings us to a staple piece by the legendary Elsa Schiaparalli. This suit featuring the embroidered mirrors leading up WWII became very popular as it embodied “urban chic” and “café society”.

Metropolitan Museum of Art/Elsa Schaparaelli, Winter 1938-39 (Above)

Other pieces displayed in the exhibit included;

Christian Dior 1947 “Bar Suit” a part of his “New Look”

Rudi Gernreich A/W 1968-69 and Azzedine Alaïa, S/S 2003 Haute Couture

Comme des Garçons, 1983

Undercover, A/W 2006-7

After viewing various designs and creations over the last couple of centuries, the tour ended with its final piece from designers Viktor & Rolf from their S/S 2020 collection.

This virtual exhibition was certainly not just an opportunity to view beautiful, legendary works of art but to recognize that “fashion is a footprint of history”. Some track the years by influential events that have occurred whether that be a world war, recession, or pandemic. Others reflect on years past remembering what was in style, how those articles of clothing made people feel and what the messages were that they were sending to society at the time. After all, that is truly what fashion is — that is its purpose and that is what those who continue to respect fashion for the art form it is must carry it out.

By: Janae Wilson – Editor-in-chief