Costume Institute’s China Exhibition Will Show 130 Iconic Designs From the Archive

Details of "China: Through the Looking Glass".
Photo: Joe Schildhorn/BFA.

“As Buddhist scripture says, ‘In the sky, there is no distinction of east and west’,” Wong Kar Wai said at a preview at the The Metropolitan Museum of Art on a blustery cold Monday. The Chinese filmmaker and artistic director of the Costume Institute’s upcoming exhibition “China: Through the Looking Glass,” slated to open May 7, flew in from Hong Kong for the occasion (see Wong Kar Wai Will Direct Met Show on Chinese Influence in Fashion).

Kar Wai hopes the show will bring the two worlds together. The exhibition will span the museum’s Costume Institute and parts of its Asian art wing (which celebrates its 100th anniversary this year). Bringing together more than 130 designs from the archives of Alexander McQueen, Yves Saint Laurent, Chanel, and more, the show will investigate the influence of Chinese art, film, and culture on Western fashion.

What can visitors expect? In one striking juxtaposition, a fall 2011 McQueen blue-and-white frock that clearly evokes the pattern and motifs of Chinese porcelain stands next to a blue-and-white silk evening gown (with a train fit for the red carpet) by Roberto Cavalli from his fall 2005 collection. Joining them is an early 15th-century Chinese vase in the same palette.

Films will play a key component as well, with clips from Ang Lee’s Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon and Kar Wai’s In the Mood for Loveamong othersappearing throughout the show.

In celebration of the exhibition, a star-studded benefit gala, attended in past years by celebs like Beyoncé, Miley Cyrus, and Marina Abramović, will take place at the Metropolitan three days before its opening. Honorary chair for the benefit Silas Chou was in attendance at the preview, along with Artsy investor Wendi Murdoch, Vogue‘s Anna Wintour, the museum’s president Emily Rafferty, and its curators Andrew Bolton and Maxwell K. Hearn.

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