NEW YORK — The last Chanel tweed suits have been carefully taken off the mannequins, and the video installations were disassembled on Wednesday at the Metropolitan Museum of Art. Now the Met is on to the next show, which will include a sharpened focus on accessories.
"The Costume Institute collection is encyclopedic...if you wanted a complete survey from the 18th century onwards, with our collection, you could just do it," Harold Koda, curator in charge of the Costume Institute, explained.
"However, over the years, shoes, bags, hats and gloves were only collected as they were offered to us. There was never a preemptive acquisition policy though; despite that, we have a reasonably strong collection of accessories, especially in shoes."
This fall, it is inaugurating the new focus on accessories with "Rara Avis: Selections From the Iris Barrel Apfel Collection." Apfel is known for her witty and irreverent way of mixing high fashion with flea-market finds, particularly in her choice of accessories. "Rara avis" is Latin for "rare bird.'
Initially, Apfel's collection was intended to be solely an accessories exhibit, but it has since morphed into a fashion and accessories show. "We felt the point of showing accessories is to address the issue of how the clothing looks if fully accessorized," Koda said.
Andrew Bolton, the Costume Institute's associate curator, added, "Apfel's clothing collection is very much textile driven with a really strong focus on forms, so it complements the fall collections of Marc Jacobs and Stefano Pilati for Yves Saint Laurent. We think it's very timely in that sense."
The installation will showcase accessories such as a Gripoix brooch, a Roger Jean-Pierre bracelet, and a pair of 18th-century paste earrings reminiscent of plastic cuffs. The exhibition is being organized by Stephane Houy-Towner, a research associate at the Costume Institute, with Koda's support. It will run Sept.13-Jan. 22.
In discussing the next show, Koda took the opportunity to address some of the critics of the Chanel exhibit, which he and Bolton look back on as a very personal and challenging experience.
The exhibition closed its doors to the public on Sunday after 12 weeks. The show had a total attendance of 463,603, and proved to be one of the institute's most successful shows ever. In comparison, the 2001 exhibition, "Jacqueline Kennedy: The White House Years," attracted 559,902, but that show's space was more than twice the size of Chanel's and was able to accommodate more people.
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