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About Time : Fashion & Duration at the Met

Beginning October 29th, the Met Costume Institute presents About Time: Fashion and Duration, an exhibition retracing one and a half century of fashion, from 1870 to the present day along a disrupted timeline, in honor of the museum's 150th anniversary. Based on the concept of duration - the continuity of time - of the French philosopher Henri Bergson, the exhibition explores how clothing generates temporal associations that confound past, present and future. The concept is also examined through the writings of Virginia Woolf, who serves as the exhibition's "ghost narrator."

The exhibition highlights many French fashion designers from Gabrielle Chanel and Christian Dior to Nicolas Ghesquière, Jean-Paul Gaultier and Olivier Rousteing. It showcases the eclecticism of French fashion through the work of the great fashion designers and dressmakers during the past decades.

Described as a "show which considers the ephemeral nature of fashion, employing flashbacks and fast-forwards to reveal how it can be both linear and cyclical,” by Museum Director Max Hollein, the exhibition presents a chronology of 125 styles from 1870 - the year the Met was founded and the beginning of a decade that saw major developments in the global standardization of time - to the present day. The majority of the exhibits come from the Met's Costume Institute collection, including significant gifts from designers as part of the Met's Collections 2020 initiative, and are linked to the museum's 150th anniversary activities.

The timeline is displayed in two adjacent galleries constructed like the faces of huge clocks and organized according to the 60-minute fashion principle. Each "minute" presents a pair of garments, with the main work representing the linear nature of fashion and the secondary work its cyclical character. To illustrate Bergson's concept of duration - the past coexisting with the present - the works in each pair are linked by form, pattern, material, model, technique or decoration. For example, a black silk faille princess-line dress from the late 1870s is paired with an Alexander McQueen “Bumster” skirt from 1995. A black silk satin dress with enormous leg-o’-mutton sleeves from the mid-1890s is juxtaposed with a Comme des Garçons deconstructed ensemble from 2004.


About The Met’s 150th Anniversary.

In 2020, The Metropolitan Museum of Art recognizes the 150th anniversary of its founding with a range of exhibitions and programs. Highlights include the exhibition Making the Met, 1870–2020; the opening of the newly renovated and reimagined galleries devoted to British decorative arts and design in March; the display of new gifts throughout the Museum; and a story-collecting initiative.

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