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More Details Emerge on the Costume Institute's Spring Exhibit

Photos: Steven Sullivan for WWD
Photos: Steven Sullivan for WWD

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Amid the dozens of New York Fashion Week shows and events she's attending this week, Anna Wintour found the time to stop by the Metropolitan Museum of Art yesterday morning for a first look at the Costume Institute's next exhibit China: Through the Looking Glass. While there's still plenty of time to go until its May 7th public opening (and May 4th gala opening), WWD got a first look at what visitors will be viewing.


"In the sky, there's no distinction from East and West," Buddhist scripture reads. "People make these distinctions in their minds and believe them to be true." Museum curator Andrew Bolton and exhibition artistic director Wong Kar-wai used this quote to inspire a setup that juxtaposes Chinese designs dating back to the 1700s with what they influenced in modern, Western times (like the yellow Yves Saint Laurent fall/winter 2004/2005 dress designed by Tom Ford seen above) against decorative tapestries and other works of art.

Aside from the fashion—which consists of 130 couture and "ready-to-wear" pieces (using that term lightly) from the likes of Cristobal Balenciaga, Marc Jacobs in his Louis Vuitton era, Coco Chanel, and Jason Wu—film also plays an important role in the exhibition. Bolton showed clips from movies including "Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon" and "Raise the Red Lantern" to a crowd that included Met Ball co-chair Wendi Deng and Thom Browne to highlight how film has shaped the West's perspective on Eastern culture.

And along with sections dedicated to costumes of the opera star Mei Lanfang and "Women of Style" like Oei Huilan and Soong May-ling, the museum will also have a component that sounds slightly trippy, for lack of a better word. Taking inspiration from "Alice's Adventures in Wonderland," "a series of mirrored reflections will be set up to zero in on Imperial China, the Republic of China and the People's Republic of China," the paper writes of this "fictional universe" the museum plans to create. "As if by magic, the physical distance between East and West, which often seems monolithic and diametrically opposed, diminishes," Bolton said of this area.

Need a better idea of the fashion you'll be seeing this spring? Check out the Met's first look of the exhibit in the gallery below.

The Metropolitan Museum of Art

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