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The Costume Institute

Anna Wintour Costume Center | Charles James: Beyond Fashion

The Costume Institute's collection of more than thirty-five thousand costumes and accessories represents five continents and seven centuries of fashionable dress, regional costumes, and accessories for men, women, and children, from the fifteenth century to the present.

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Spectrum Spotlight—China: Through the Looking Glass

Christopher Gorman, Assistant Administrator, Marketing and External Relations; Chair, Spectrum

Posted: Tuesday, July 7, 2015

Andrew Bolton, curator in The Costume Institute, recently spoke with me about the special exhibition China: Through the Looking Glass, extended through September 7.

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The Decoration of Men's Fashion in Eighteenth-Century France

Kirstin Purtich, Former Intern, Department of European Sculpture and Decorative Arts

Posted: Wednesday, June 3, 2015

In the eighteenth century, promenading among the shops along the rue St. Honoré became a fashionable leisure activity for men and women alike. This street was home to Paris's marchands merciers (known as "mercers" in English), a class of merchants who dealt in all manner of luxury goods, including textiles for furnishing and clothing. The mercers' exclusive right to finishing work—arranging for the addition of embroidery, buttons, braids, and sequins through a network of specialized workers—allowed their customers to choose the exact colors and patterns they wanted at the point of sale. The range of embroidery samples currently displayed in the exhibition Elaborate Embroidery: Fabrics for Menswear before 1815, on view through July 19, offers a small window into the level of decoration and customization possible for fashionable men of the late eighteenth and early nineteenth century.

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Crossing Cultures—Platon for China: Through the Looking Glass

Rachel High, Editorial Assistant, Editorial Department

Posted: Thursday, May 7, 2015

Best known for his compelling portraits of world leaders, Platon spent several months photographing couture garments from designers such as Christian Dior, Jean Paul Gaultier, Karl Lagerfeld, Alexander McQueen, and Yves Saint Laurent, as well as traditional Chinese costume and decorative art objects. I spoke with him about the book, his work, and the importance of artists as cultural mediators.

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Back in Print—High Style: Masterworks from the Brooklyn Museum Costume Collection at The Metropolitan Museum of Art

Rachel High, Editorial Assistant, Editorial Department

Posted: Monday, February 9, 2015

The perfect Valentine's Day gift for the fashion lover, High Style is now back in print as a paperback, with an updated cover that features the stunning "Clover Leaf" gown by Charles James. This lavishly illustrated volume presents some two hundred examples drawn from more than twenty-four thousand garments, accessories, hats, and shoes in the Brooklyn Museum's collection (which was transferred to the Met in 2009). A wide-ranging book covering garments from the eighteenth through the twentieth century, High Style provides a perfect introduction to the history of fashion.

In honor of Valentine's Day, read further to learn more about seven romantically hued ensembles featured in this publication.

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Andrew Bolton Wins 2015 Vilcek Prize in Fashion

Nancy Chilton, Chief Communications Officer for The Costume Institute

Posted: Friday, February 6, 2015

Andrew Bolton, curator in The Costume Institute, was chosen as the winner of the Vilcek Prize in Fashion for his curatorial work that elevates fashion as an art form. The prize is part of the 2015 Vilcek Prize and Creative Promise Prizes in the Arts, which are awarded in the field of fashion, and spotlight foreign-born artists with records of major achievement in their fields.

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Charles James: Beyond Fashion—Interview with Conservators Sarah Scaturro and Glenn Petersen

Rachel High, Editorial Assistant, Editorial Department

Posted: Tuesday, June 17, 2014

Sarah Scaturro and Glenn Petersen are conservators in The Costume Institute who not only contributed to the conservation of Charles James's works in Charles James: Beyond Fashion, on view through August 10, but also authored an essay for the catalogue which accompanies the exhibition. The book offers a comprehensive study of the life and work of legendary Anglo-American couturier Charles James (1906−1978) and highlights his virtuosity and inventiveness. This publication also includes early photographs and rarely seen archival items, such as muslin study pieces, dress forms, and sketches.

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Charles James: Beyond Fashion—Interview with Photographer Karin L. Willis

Rachel High, Editorial Assistant, Editorial Department

Posted: Tuesday, May 27, 2014

I recently sat down with Karin L. Willis, the photographer for the Charles James: Beyond Fashion catalogue that accompanies the current exhibition of James's work, on view through August 10. The publication offers a comprehensive study of the life and work of the legendary Anglo-American couturier Charles James (1906−1978), highlights his virtuosity and inventiveness, and includes early photographs and rarely seen archival items—including muslin study pieces, dress forms, and sketches. During our conversation Karin spoke about the challenging but rewarding process of photographing James's designs.

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Interview with Charles James: Beyond Fashion Co-author Jan Glier Reeder

Rachel High, Editorial Assistant, Editorial Department

Posted: Thursday, May 8, 2014

The Costume Institute's 2014 exhibition, Charles James: Beyond Fashion, opens May 8 and offers a comprehensive study of the life and work of legendary Anglo-American couturier Charles James (1906−1978). In the accompanying exhibition catalogue, co-author Jan Glier Reeder—consulting curator in The Costume Institute for the Brooklyn Museum Costume Collection at The Metropolitan Museum of Art—highlights James's virtuosity and inventiveness, as well as his influence on future generations of fashion designers. This publication also includes early photographs and rarely seen archival items, such as muslin study pieces, dress forms, and sketches.

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First Lady Michelle Obama Opens The Costume Institute's Anna Wintour Costume Center

Nancy Chilton, Chief Communications Officer for The Costume Institute

Posted: Tuesday, May 6, 2014

Yesterday morning, First Lady Michelle Obama cut the ribbon to mark the official opening of The Costume Institute's new Anna Wintour Costume Center, which has just undergone a two-year renovation. The space will reopen to the public this Thursday, May 8, with the exhibition Charles James: Beyond Fashion.

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Near Neighbors: Brooklyn Dressmakers in the Brooklyn Museum Costume Collection at The Metropolitan Museum of Art

P. Grace Hernandez, 2010–11 Polaire Weissman Fellow, The Costume Institute

Posted: Monday, January 14, 2013

When the Brooklyn Museum transferred its costume collection to the Metropolitan Museum's Costume Institute in January 2009, the Met acquired an impressive array of garments from renowned European and American designers. Some highlights from the collection were featured in the related 2010 exhibitions American Woman: Fashioning a National Identity at the Met and American High Style: Fashioning a National Collection at the Brooklyn Museum. Yet the collection also contains a set of objects with noteworthy local origins: garments and accessories made by Brooklyn-based clothing and accessory makers—milliners, tailors, and dressmakers—working independently or in department stores during the nineteenth and twentieth centuries.

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Now at the Met offers in-depth articles and multimedia features about the Museum's current exhibitions, events, research, announcements, behind-the-scenes activities, and more.