NEW YORK — This fall, the Costume Institute at the Metropolitan Museum of Art will explore a different kind of fashion history with “Death Becomes Her: A Century of Mourning Attire.”
The exhibition will examine the impact of high fashion on mourning between 1815 and 1915, with the 30 or so garments including gowns by Queen Victoria — arguably history’s longest grieving widow — and Queen Alexandra.
The idea for it did not have its origins in death and subsequent grief. “For years, I have wanted to do a silhouette show, something that looks at the most exaggerated elements of the fashionable silhouette, which, in the 19th century, takes really extraordinary transformations,” said curator-in-charge Harold Koda, who worked on the exhibition with assistant curator Jessica Regan. “I was talking with Jessica, and said, ‘Why don’t we do a show with all of our black dresses on the theme of mourning?’ It’s a sociohistorical survey of this culture of memorializing and grieving. It’s the intersection of this really sobering and quite poignant narrative about dealing with grief, and at the same time a really chic fashion story.”
Needless to say, it will feature mostly black ensembles, as well as jewelry and accessories (“Veils,” Koda exclaimed).
“Our selections are based on trying to find expressions of each of the silhouettes that existed these decades, and to represent different stages of mourning and different textiles that were required according to the dictates of mourning etiquette,” Regan noted. For example, this includes a progression of fabrics from mourning crepe to corded silks, and later, the introduction of subtle color via shades of gray and mauve.
“There is this overlay of fashion with this really ritualized aspect of mourning,” Koda said, adding that there will also be 19th-century photographs of women in mourning.
He said the main takeaway is going to be how “even in a subject that is so fraught with emotion, clothing is a very active participant in addressing these more intangible issues. It becomes a physical manifestation of grief and in a way becomes something that is a mechanism for dealing with it.”
This marks the Costume Institute’s first fall exhibition in seven years. It will take place at the Anna Wintour Costume Center, and will be open to the public Oct. 21, 2014, through Feb. 1, 2015.
“The focus,” added Koda, “might seem somber, and, of course, the content is necessarily serious, but I think people will leave astonished by the range of how fashion insinuates itself into all of this.”
“Azzedine has been one of the biggest influences in my life. He has always been such a strong, loving, fatherly figure to me. I call him Papa. His designs are indescribably unique, they are pieces of art. He knew how to make the female form look its loveliest. I have so many memories of him; my favorite might be during my first show with him in Paris. He liked me and he wanted to help me get more work. He called all his friends at Kenzo and Comme des Garcons, and asked them to book me. They said, ‘But she can’t walk!’ And he said, ‘but she has such a great ass!' His friendship and support has been the great privilege of my career. I can't imagine life without him. Repose en paix mon Papa.” - @stephanieseymour tells @wwd. #wwdfashion (📷: @steveeichner) #alaia #azzedinealaia
Azzedine Alaïa, flanked by two of his closest friends, models Stephanie Seymour and Naomi Campbell.
He designed Seymour’s dress for her 1995 wedding to Peter Brant, and treated Campbell (who famously called him Papa), like a daughter. For more on the legendary designer, tap the link in bio. #wwdfashion #alaia #azzedinealaia
Azzedine Alaïa's “I-did-it-my-way” ethos stood out starkly at a time when brands are experimenting with consumer-facing fashion shows, coed formats and trans-seasonal collections – anything to perk up lackluster sales of ready-to-wear in an age of Insta-everything. “It’s not creation anymore. This becomes a purely industrial approach,” the late designer told WWD in an interview last year. “But anyway, the rhythm of collections is so stupid. It’s unsustainable. There are too many collections.” Read more about the iconic designer’s life and work on wwd.com, link in bio. #wwdfashion #azzedinealaia (📷: @WWD Archive, 1986) #alaia
Sneaker reselling app @goat’s latest exhibit, "The Greatest: New York," tells the story of New York's sneaker culture. To celebrate the exhibit, an intimate crowd gathered on Thursday night at the pop-up gallery space, located at Platform in Culver City, to hear guest speaker and illustrator @esymai talk about her own rise in streetwear and women in the business. "For me I'm just someone who is creative. I like to create things," said Chang. #wwdfashion
Azzedine Alaïa, one of the most iconic couturiers of the modern era whose body-con designs defined Eighties fashion, has died in Paris. The diminutive Tunisian-born designer, known for his structured knitted dresses with fitted waists and impeccably cut, figure-hugging second skin silhouettes was deeply admired by his peers, and counted supermodel Naomi Campbell - his adoptive daughter - among his inner circle, one of a gang of glamazons including Farida Khelfa, Carla Bruni and Stephanie Seymour who became ambassadors of his style. (📷: Alexandre Guirkinger) #wwdblast