The title of this year’s Met exhibition is China Through the Looking Glass. As you’ve probably surmised, the name refers to Lewis Carroll’s book, and although the curator of the Costume Institute, Andrew Bolton, explained in detail why exactly that was, somewhere between the phrases “mutual dialogues,” “fictional universe” and “monolithic interpretations”, I’ll be honest – he lost me.
The point of the exhibition is to explore the influence of Chinese art, film and aesthetics on international fashion designers, including Karl Lagerfeld, Alexander McQueen, Dior and Saint Laurent. At the press conference to unveil the event, filmmaker Wong Kar Wai, the exhibition’s artistic director, said he hoped it would bring Chinese and western cultures together rather than highlighting their differences. It’s a nice idea, in theory…
Proper power players are involved with the exhibition
See above. Also see Anna Wintour, who was thanked by the president of the Met for raising over 150 million dollars for the museum in recent years. At the launch, we spotted Wintour in a sharp leather coat sitting next to Wendi Murdoch. It is worth noting that at the power photocall, Wintour held rank. When she had decided that the photography should stop, a polite dip of her knees was all it took to halt the snapping. P.O.W.E.R.
In the Mood for Love will be on every stylist’s moodboard in the runup to the exhibition
And why not? A clip of the film reminded those at the conference that no one has made Chinese fashion look so beautiful on the widescreen as Wong Kar Wai.
The exhibition will match objects from Chinese culture to specific fashion items
For example: a giant 15th century blue and white Chinese jar picturing dragons will be placed next to homages by two designers. One is a Sarah Burton-designed Alexander McQueen dress from the autumn/winter 2011-12 collection, made from cream silk and organza and embroidered with shards of blue and white porcelain. The other is a Roberto Cavalli 2005 dress which Victoria Beckham once wore to Elton John’s White Tie and Tiara party, circa the ‘blonde years’. Remember? Meanwhile, a yellow silk-satin embroidered festival robe worn by Emperor Qianlong in the second half of the 18th century will sit next to a remarkably similar Tom Ford for Yves Saint Laurent dress from autumn 2004. To surmise: it’s a very fancy game of “get the look”.
It’s a fair bet that Met gala attendees this year will embrace the theme
Those with a decent personal couture archive of John Galliano for Dior and Jean Paul Gaultier will have a head start, judging by examples of silk embroidered robes on display. Kate Moss, for example, will be fine. There will be extra points for anyone rocking a vintage cheongsam (do it Alexa) and there is an outside chance that Victoria Beckham will revisit the Cavalli vase number. Dangerous ground for the likes of Katy Perry who might be tempted to run away with the styling on this one, though.