Visiting Sleeping Beauties: Reawakening Fashion?

You must join the virtual exhibition queue when you arrive. If capacity has been reached for the day, the queue will close early.

Learn more
Exhibitions/ China: Through the Looking Glass

China: Through the Looking Glass

At The Met Fifth Avenue
May 7–September 7, 2015

Exhibition Overview


This exhibition explores the impact of Chinese aesthetics on Western fashion and how China has fueled the fashionable imagination for centuries. In this collaboration between The Costume Institute and the Department of Asian Art, high fashion is juxtaposed with Chinese costumes, paintings, porcelains, and other art, including films, to reveal enchanting reflections of Chinese imagery.

From the earliest period of European contact with China in the sixteenth century, the West has been enchanted with enigmatic objects and imagery from the East, providing inspiration for fashion designers from Paul Poiret to Yves Saint Laurent, whose fashions are infused at every turn with romance, nostalgia, and make-believe. Through the looking glass of fashion, designers conjoin disparate stylistic references into a pastiche of Chinese aesthetic and cultural traditions.

The exhibition features more than 140 examples of haute couture and avant-garde ready-to-wear alongside Chinese art. Filmic representations of China are incorporated throughout to reveal how our visions of China are framed by narratives that draw upon popular culture, and also to recognize the importance of cinema as a medium through which to understand the richness of Chinese history.

Asia 100 logo#ChinaLookingGlass

"…the exhibition…offers a thoughtful, expressive, and…utterly breathtaking exploration of China."—Washington Post

"A multimedia extravaganza that moves between quiet contemplation and brilliant visual assault."—Wall Street Journal

"'CHINA through the Looking Glass' at the Metropolitan Museum of Art is a spectacular new show."—The Economist

The exhibition is made possible by YAHOO!

Additional support is provided by  Conde Nast and several Chinese donors.

On view at The Met Fifth Avenue in

Roberto Cavalli (Italian, born 1940). Evening dress, fall/winter 2005–6. Photograph © Platon