About Time: Fashion and Duration
October 29, 2020–February 7, 2021
The Costume Institute's spring 2020 exhibition will trace a century and a half of fashion—from 1870 to the present—along a disruptive timeline, on the occasion of The Met's 150th anniversary. Employing Henri Bergson's concept of la durée (duration), it will explore how clothes generate temporal associations that conflate past, present, and future. Virginia Woolf will serve as the "ghost narrator" of the exhibition.
A timeline of 120 fashions will unfold in two adjacent galleries fabricated as enormous clock faces and organized around the principle of sixty minutes of fashion. Each "minute" will feature a pair of garments—the primary work representing the linear nature of fashion and the secondary work its cyclical character. Each pair will be connected through shape, motif, material, pattern, technique, or decoration. For example, a black silk faille princess-line dress from the late 1870s will be paired with an Alexander McQueen "Bumster" skirt from 1995. All of the primary garments will be black, to emphasize their evolving silhouettes, and the secondary will be either black or white, to underscore their mutually reinforcing associations.
The exhibition will conclude with a small selection of garments from 2020 that link the concept of duration to debates about diversity, inclusivity, sustainability, traceability, transparency, longevity, collaboration, and other ethical issues germane to the next decade of fashion.