On sunday the exhibition Death Becomes Her, a century of mourning attire at MET Museum’s Costume Institute closed its gates.
It had a great line up of frocks and dresses showcasing various states of mourning. It was much more complicated back then. Which added to the difficulties for the mourner as to maintain etiquette a certain wealth was required. Black dyed fabric was not easily achieved in production and therefore expensive. And let’s not even talk about how expensive treatment of silk was in order to acquire the demanded texture.
The collection even showed gowns of Queen Victoria (she was a small creature. Very very small) and Queen Alexandra! I was amazed how well curated the exhibition was and in what great condition the gowns are. I mean, I could not detect one single flaw! Either there must be a hell of a conservator or up there in New York they just know how to preserve fabrics from the beginning like no one else. It was a life time wish for me to visit the Costume Institute but at first I was a little disappointed for there was not a more current exhibition. There is nothing comparable here in Germany concerning fashions. I had seen here and there a court dress or so being part of bigger exhibitions about Napoleon or the period of Louis XVI. and had hoped to see some iconic YSL or Mcqueen when I would finally be able to visit NYC. At closer look then I became glad though, because of the aforementioned great condition. If it happens that original clothing of by gone eras gets included in exhibitions here, they very often have a more raggedy appeal, the silks all lackluster and white frills already in hues of decaying yellow. I don’t blame anybody as fabric is really hard to maintain. Till today it is the case that during the life of the owner and after his death clothes are mostly not considered worthy of preservation.
Especially the accessory and jewelry corner, curated by the iconic Iris Apfel and her husband Carl (a sweet article in German click here) was a delight. It’s a long time I am fascinated with Victorian era hair jewelry and this was my chance for a close look. Above a true piece of beauty and craftsmanship in gold and pearls.
Enjoy the pics dear readers as the chance to take a look by yourself won’t be possible for now. Or head over to the MET site for photographs in high res and further information including an interesting lecture about this subject held by assistant curator Jessica Regan in video. // All images by me unless otherwise stated and made with Iphone 5. Thanks goes to the MET Museum for that it is allowed to take pictures in this free manner.