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The Met's Fashion and Impressionism Exhibit, Decoded

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Claude Monet. Women in the Garden, 1866; Day Dress, 1862–64, The Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York

Tomorrow, the Metropolitan Museum of Art will open their latest exhibit to the public. It's called "Impressionism, Fashion and Modernity" and even the Times kind of didn't know what that meant.

But not to worry—they wrote an extremely in-depth piece about the exhibit that, saying, "it builds webs of new information and viewpoints around some of the best-known, most beloved paintings of all time," resulting in an, "almost hallucinatory swirl in which art and artifact continually change places." Woah. If the Times is hallucinating over fluffy dresses at the Met we want in. After the jump, a cheat sheet on the exhibit.

1.) You're going to get a lesson in 19th-century France.
The rise of an upper middle-class in the era meant department stores, illustrated fashion magazines, ready-to-wear clothing, and the concept of wearing black as an urban and chic symbol instead of strictly for mourning the loss of one's husband. Also on the rise: couture! Mo' money, mo' dresses.

2.) There will be Impressionist works that don't often make it over to the States.
For example, it will be the first time Claude Monet's "Luncheon on the Grass" will be shown in this hemisphere, courtesy of the Musée d'Orsay in Paris. Its debut last fall in the Parisian museum caused quite the crowds, so we might have another Savage Beauty on our hands.

3.) Paintings + fashion = 3D history trip.
Many of the works on display feature PYTs in petticoats and the like. The conversation between the garments and accessories in front of you and the context of their use in the artwork creates a fuller picture of the time than either medium isolated.

4.) Get your Francophile on.
Quotes dot the exhibit including, "The Parisienne is not in fashion, she is fashion," from Arsène Houssaye, writing in the magazine L'Artiste in 1869. Don't you just feel magnificently lesser-than? Shop it off at Zadig & Voltaire a few blocks from the museum.
· The Cross-Dressing of Art and Couture [NY Times]
· Checking In on Manhattan's French Retail Invasion [Racked NY]
· Savage Lines at Savage Beauty: See Before You Go [Racked NY]

The Metropolitan Museum of Art

1000 5th Avenue, Manhattan, NY 10028 (212) 535-7710