This Viktor & Rolf spring 2010 ballgown will be featured in "Masterworks: Unpacking Fashion."


THE HANDS OF TIME: As travelers and movers can attest, unpacking often takes a little more time than expected, and apparently museum curators can face that too.

This fall’s Costume Institute exhibition “Masterworks: Unpacking Fashion,” will now open on Nov. 18 instead of earlier that month, as previously announced. The closing date of Feb. 5 remains the same.

Culling 60 masterworks from the early 18th century to the present was no small undertaking for assistant curator Jessica Regan. Focusing on acquisitions from the past 10 years for the show, Regan had 1,000-plus objects to choose from in curating the show with guidance from curator in charge Andrew Bolton. Their selections are meant to demystify fashion and its collecting process, making it more understandable to all.

“Our mission is to present fashion as a living art that interprets history, becomes part of the historical process and inspires subsequent art,” Bolton said.

In an interview last month with WWD, Regan said. “What a masterwork means is something different in different periods.”

While there will be a smattering of accessories and men’s fashion, the crux of the show is women’s wear. To demonstrate how designers have reinterpreted fashions of the past in ways that have contemporary relevance, some recently acquired pieces will be paired with pieces collected years ago.

To that end, an Eighties Halston gown will be displayed opposite a Vionnet gown from the Thirties. A wealth of designers will be featured including Charles James, Rei Kawakubo for Comme des Garçons, Karl Lagerfeld for Chanel, Jeanne Lanvin, Viktor & Rolf, Maison Margiela, Alexander McQueen, Issey Miyake, Paul Poiret, Zandra Rhodes, Yves Saint Laurent for Dior, Elsa Schiaparelli, Raf Simons for Dior, Hedi Slimane for Saint Laurent, Noritaka Tatehana, Philip Treacy and Iris van Herpen, among others.

The main Lizzie and Jonathan Tisch Gallery will display ensembles in packing crates and on pallets, to give the effect they have just arrived at the museum. Visitors will find in the Carl and Iris Barrel Apfel Gallery some of the ensembles designers donated to The Met in honor of Harold Koda to commemorate his retirement as curator in charge. One such gift is a Karl Lagerfeld-designed black dress embroidered with trompe l’oeil jewelry from his first Chanel collection. Koda had “desired” the dress for The Costume Institute’s collection for years, and the designer remade one upon Koda’s retirement, according to Regan.

The “Masterworks: Unpacking Fashion” exhibition will be featured on The Met’s site, as well as on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter using #FashionMasterworks.

In the meantime, The Costume Institute’s current show, “Manus x Machina: Fashion in an Age of Technology” has an extended run through Labor Day, as previously reported.

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