Last month I had the pleasure of visiting The Metropolitan Museum of Art (The Met) to see the new fashion exhibit, Charles James: Beyond Fashion.
The adventure began on a rainy spring day…
So naturally I stole my boyfriend’s coat
We saw the sign for the fashion exhibit the moment we got to the museum. (Oh, the excitement!)
Sign for the Charles James exhibit
Charles James: Beyond Fashion
The Charles James: Beyond Fashion exhibit features dozens of beautiful designs by the late American couturier Charles James.
Charles James: Beyond Fashion exhibit
His designs are timeless and breathtaking. I managed to snap a couple of photos before a member of the museum staff told me that photography isn’t allowed… oops.
I just love how this first display is arranged. Can’t you just imagine sophisticated ladies wearing these lovely gowns at a fancy event in the 1950s?
This next part of the exhibit had a modern twist. There were live-feed moving cameras that projected close up views of each gown’s intricate details and screens that displayed x-ray images of their internal support structure. Not only were the gowns beautifully designed on the outside, but on the inside they were a feat of remarkable craftsmanship.
One of the many stunning gowns
Charles James essentially constructed wearable sculptures. I could have spent hours and hours carefully studying each gown, but we did want to see some of the rest of the museum, (which is HUGE by the way) so I bid farewell to the gowns and took a stroll through the rest of The Met.
I felt like I barely scratched the surface of the museum, but I did get a brief taste of ancient Egypt, Qing dynasty China, and 18th century France. Below are a few of the highlights:
Ancient Egypt has always been sort of a fascination of mine–probably has something to do with the glamorization of Cleopatra. While the mummies did freak me out a bit (I’m so squeamish), I enjoyed the rest of the exhibit.
Ancient Egyptian statue
Small Delights: Chinese Snuff Bottles
Next we saw Chinese snuff bottles from the Qing dynasty. At first I laughed at the idea of this exhibit, but they were actually quite lovely.
Snuff bottles from the Qing Dynasty (1644-1911)
According to the exhibit, snuff is a mixture of tobacco leaves, herbs and spices and was used for medicinal purposes. Snuff usage became increasingly popular during the Qing Dynasty (1644-1911) which led to the production of snuff bottles.
These small, air-tight, containers preserved the freshness and flavor of the snuff. Over the centuries, snuff gained popularity in every aspect of Chinese society. The bottles display the various types of Chinese artistic styles through the centuries and how they were influenced by Western techniques.
As you can see from the images, the bottles incorporated a variety of art forms including glass, porcelain, ivory, painted enamel, metal, and calligraphy. Aren’t they pretty?
According to the display, some of the most exquisite snuffboxes were made of precious metals and decorated with gems. These were often gifts from European envoys and missionaries to the Chinese court. These snuffboxes were some of the most prized possessions of the Chinese emperors.
18th Century France
Perhaps my favorite part of the museum was the display that recreated rooms from 18th century France. Have a look!
Formal Reception Room from the Hotel de Tesse, Paris
Could you imagine living amongst all this beauty? Le sigh.
Room from the Palais Paar, Vienna
The French certainly are fancy. (There’s even a harp!) Every detail in this room is exquisite.
I’d feel like a queen waking up in that room each morning! Just look at that chandelier.
This was just a small snippet of the many beautiful things to see at the Met. If you ever find yourself in NYC and are looking for a cultured visit, I’d definitely recommend spending an afternoon (or a whole day!) at The Met. Until the next adventure!