Inside the Met’s latest fashion show — Quartz

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While all eyes are on the star-studded Met Gala, another spectacle of Hollywood stars opens at the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York City.

In the American wing, the second part of the museum’s annual fashion survey, In America: An Anthology of Fashion, featuring a period space composed by nine acclaimed film directors, Martin Scorsese, Chloé Zhao, Sofia Coppola, Radha Blank, Janicza Bravo, Julie Dash, Autumn de Wilde, Regina King, and Tom Ford. In the hands of these master storytellers, old skirts and coats come alive against the stark white square backdrop of most fashion shows.

In the May 2 preview, Andrew Bolton, curator of the Costume Institute, explained how much they loved pairing the director, designer, and room. The hope, he says, is that the fictional tableau “activates history in interesting and unexpected ways” and highlights the lesser-known figures who shaped American fashion.

© Metropolitan Museum of Art/Anna-Marie Kellen

Janicza Bravo’s tribute to designer and critic Elizabeth Hawes in the Rococo revival room.

© Metropolitan Museum of Art/Anna-Marie Kellen

Autumn de Wilde’s whimsical mise en scène in the Baltimore dining room.

© Metropolitan Museum of Art/Anna-Marie Kellen

The Shaker retirement room, by Chloé Zhao, showcases the practical and simple aesthetic of Claire McCardell.

Scorsese’s noir sketch, a revival staged in a parlor designed by architect Frank Lloyd Wright, he underlines the twin sensibilities between the renowned architect of control and Charles James, the British-American couturier known for his meticulously crafted ball gowns and uncompromising demeanor. James, who was the subject of a 2014 exhibition at the Met, doesn’t really pay much attention to his clients’ preferences, the Met curators explain. “He has his own ideas for designs and adapts them to the customer, whether they like it or not.”

© Metropolitan Museum of Art/Anna-Marie Kellen

A wake in the Met’s Frank Lloyd Wright Room, directed by Martin Scorsese.

In a circular gallery built specifically for panoramic paintings of the Versailles landscape, Tom Ford (A Single Man) creates a frozen frame for the fight scene, referring to the historic battle between French and American fashion designers in 1973 dubbed the “Battle of Versailles.” Characteristic of Ford’s bombastic use and precise restraint, skirmishes—flying ninja hi-jinks, fencing, karate chops—offered an indelible and poetic setting for American designers such as Stephen Burrows, Yves Saint Laurent, and Halston who outperformed their French counterparts. .

© Metropolitan Museum of Art/Anna-Marie Kellen

Tom Ford depicts the historic competition between French and American fashion designers at Versailles in the Vanderlyn Panorama.

© Metropolitan Museum of Art/Anna-Marie Kellen

The shadowy figure represents the neglected designer Ann Lowe in the Renaissance revival room, initiated by Julie Dash.

Perhaps the most didactic and poignant sketch conceived by Dash (dust princess), who made history as the first African-American woman to direct a wide-release feature film. In the Met’s Renaissance revival parlor, she created the long-awaited homage to Ann Lowe, a black designer favored by 1950s socialites including Jacqueline Kennedy who asked her to design her wedding dress. The granddaughter of an enslaved tailor, Lowe is yet another pioneering black woman neglected by contemporary historians, and in the evocative performance of Dash, she is represented by hooded figures draped in black chiffon matching her ball gowns.

First Lady Jill Biden, who opened the exhibition, underlined the educational value of the exhibition. “The history of American design is rich and deep,” he said. “This is a story of innovation and ingenuity; rebellion and renewal. It is often written by those in the shadows.”

celebrity money

The exhibition also marks the museum’s growing alliance with Hollywood, which helps the museum raise operational funds. Last week’s star-studded Met Gala alone brought in a record $17.4 million from ticket sales ($30,000 each, $340,000 for the table) and sponsorship deals.

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