Death Becomes Her at the Metropolitan Museum of Art
Nestled deep in the Metropolitan Museum of Art is the Costume Institute’s fabulous exhibit Death Becomes Her. A display of some 30 outfits shows the progression of mourning attire through the 19th and early 20th century. This exhibition expertly uses the new and expensive Anna Wintour Costume Center. Black-outfitted figures stand out against stark white backgrounds, in a spooky, yet elegant, manner. However, the beauty of these looks doesn’t stop at their looming silhouettes; a closer view reveals the intricacy of dressmaking and textile development in those times.
During this time period, mourning attire became closely aligned to fashion trends and societal expectations. As a way for the more economically fortunate to establish their social standing, mourning gowns evolved from simple black dresses to fully ruffled and ornamented garments. In this exhibition, even the earliest “modest” gowns played with volume and gathering of fabric. As the displays progressed, each look became increasingly decorated and a stunning variety of textiles flourished. Bold stripes and lush jacquards broke up the monotone black, with sheer tulle and chiffon veils adding to this texture wonderland.
An unexpected standout was the accessories involved with mourning attire: everything from simple cameo broaches to large hats and overwrought necklaces furthered the element of high fashion in this category of dressing. These truly complete outfits are a testament of their time and the work put into simply getting dressed everyday. Death Becomes Her might not be the cheeriest of shows the Costume Institute has curated, but its drama and chic-factor are, nonetheless, breathtaking. Visitors and New Yorkers should take the time to see this exhibit before it closes.
Death Becomes Her is at the Metropolitan Museum of Art from 21st October 2014 until 1st February 2015, for further information visit here.