I can't believe that it's taken almost four months since I wrote about the fashions at this year's Met Gala to actually make it to see China: Through The Looking Glass at New York's Metropolitan Museum of Art. The exhibition which is a collaboration between the Costume Institute and Department of Asian Art opened on May 7 and was originally supposed to run until August 16 but due to popular demand it was extended through September 7. It was just reported in the New York Times that as of last Friday, the show had a record attendance of 735,000 visitors surpassing the record of 661,509 for Alexander McQueen: Savage Beauty (another incredible show!).
China: Through The Looking Glass showcases the connection between fine art and fashion while exploring the impact of China's influence on Western fashion through history. Influential filmmaker Wong Kar Wai served as the artistic director for this show and his stylistic vision and impeccable eye for detail can be felt throughout. This exquisitely stunning haute couture gold gown by Chinese designer Guo Pei with a lotus flower shaped bodice and skirt was presented in a gallery of Buddha statues. Given the importance of the lotus as a symbol in Buddhism, this was the perfect placement.
The collection of over 140 pieces is presented on multi-levels and this staging is meant to be labyrinth-like evoking Lewis Carroll's Alice In Wonderland, a nod to the "looking glass" element in the exhibition's title. A cinematic journey is also created as significant moments in Asian film are juxtaposed within the galleries. The entire experience is incredibly captivating on a visual and sensory level. Even though we got lost and doubled back into some of the galleries a few times, it felt like I was seeing something new with each turn. I definitely came away with an appreciation for the pervasive influence of Chinese culture on Western fashion. It was really undeniable especially after seeing the references presented alongside the creations they inspired.
The Met has announced extended hours for Labor Day weekend so if you're in New York and you haven't seen this exhibit yet, I'd highly suggest it. You can learn more about China: Through The Looking Glass through the museum's official website.
CHANEL 1930, HIDDEN PLACKET EVENING JACKET REMADE FROM A CHINESE MANCHU ROBE | ORIGINAL DESIGN HANGING BEHIND IT