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The Met’s “China: Through the Looking Glass” may outpace McQueen retrospective

July 24, 2015

Roberto Cavalli gown on display at The Met Roberto Cavalli gown on display at The Met


The Metropolitan Museum of Art’s Costume Institute has announced the expansion of its current exhibit “China: Through the Looking Glass” through Labor Day Weekend.

China: Through the Looking Glass opened on May 7 and explores the influences Chinese culture has had on Western high-fashion through a juxtaposition of couture and avant-garde fashion pieces with Chinese art and cultural artifacts. While many brands focus in on Chinese consumer behavior through social efforts and store openings, this exhibit aims to appraise cultural appropriation in reverse.

Expansion plan
According to Women’s Wear Daily, the Met has had 50,000 visitors come since the exhibit opened in May. Due to the high attendance, the Met has decided to expand the viewing to Labor Day.

The exhibit is divided into two parts, one that includes three of China’s major historical periods — Imperial China, the Republic of China and the People’s Republic of China — and a second that focuses on the Empire of Signs. The exhibit features 130 couture and avant-garde fashions side-by-side with examples of Chinese costumes, paintings, films, porcelains and other art.

For example, an 18th-century Chinese festival robe will be paired with an evening gown designed by Tom Ford for Yves Saint Laurent’s fall 2004 collection. Also, a 15th-century porcelain jar will be complemented by a Roberto Cavalli evening dress from 2005 with a similar pattern (see story).

Met China.TomFord YSL Fall2004

Tom Ford for Yves Saint Laurent, fall 2004

With the extended time period, China: Through the Looking Glass may see higher attendance than the Alexander McQueen retrospective (see story). That show, which was also extended due to high attendance and long lines, saw 661,509 visitors over its 15-week run.