The Costume Institute’s upcoming exhibition About Time: Fashion and Duration (on view October 29, 2020 to February 7, 2021) will trace 150 years of fashion, from 1870 to the present, along a disrupted timeline, in honor of the Museum’s 150th anniversary. Employing philosopher Henri Bergson’s concept of la durée—the continuity of time—the exhibition will explore how clothes generate temporal associations that conflate the past, present, and future. The concept will also be examined through the writings of Virginia Woolf, who will serve as the exhibition’s “ghost narrator.”
“About Time: Fashion and Duration will consider the ephemeral nature of fashion, employing flashbacks and fast-forwards to reveal how it can be both linear and cyclical,” said Max Hollein, Director of The Met. “The result is a show that will present a nuanced continuum of fashion over the Museum’s 150-year history.”
The timeline will unfold in two adjacent galleries fabricated as enormous clock faces and organized around the principle of 60 minutes of fashion. Each “minute” will feature a pair of garments, with the primary work representing the linear nature of fashion and the secondary work its cyclical character. To illustrate Bergson’s concept of duration—of the past co-existing with the present—the works in each pair will be connected through shape, motif, material, pattern, technique, or decoration. For example, a black silk faille princess-line dress from the late 1870s will be paired with an Alexander McQueen “Bumster” skirt from 1995. A black silk satin dress with enormous leg-o’-mutton sleeves from the mid-1890s will be juxtaposed with a Comme des Garçons deconstructed ensemble from 2004.
All of the garments will be black to emphasize changes in silhouette, except at the conclusion of the show, where a white dress from Viktor & Rolf’s spring/summer 2020 haute couture collection, made from upcycled swatches in a patchwork design, will serve as a symbol for the future of fashion with its emphasis on community, collaboration, and sustainability. The dress will float in an “infinity box” surrounded by a “tornado” of swatches, like a Phoenix rising from the ashes.
Designers whose work will be on view in the exhibition include Virgil Abloh (for Off-White), Azzedine Alaïa, Jonathan Anderson (for JW Anderson and Loewe), Cristóbal Balenciaga, Boué Soeurs, Thom Browne, Stephen Burrows, Sarah Burton (for Alexander McQueen), Gabrielle Chanel, Christian Dior, House of Drecoll, Tom Ford (for Gucci), Mariano Fortuny y Madrazo, John Galliano (for Maison Margiela and John Galliano), Jean Paul Gaultier, Rudi Gernreich, Nicolas Ghesquière (for Louis Vuitton), Hubert de Givenchy, Georgina Godley, Madame Grès, Jacques Griffe, Halston, Johnson Hartig (for Libertine), Iris van Herpen, Marc Jacobs (for Perry Ellis, Marc Jacobs, and Louis Vuitton), Charles James, Victor Joris, Norma Kamali, Donna Karan, Rei Kawakubo (for Comme des Garçons), Patrick Kelly, Lamine Kouyaté (for Xuly.Bët), Christian Lacroix, Helmut Lang, Karl Lagerfeld (for Chanel), Jeanne Lanvin, Martin Margiela, Claire McCardell, Malcolm McLaren, Alexander McQueen, Issey Miyake, Kei Ninomiya (for Noir Kei Ninomiya), Norman Norell, Shayne Oliver (for Hood by Air), Rick Owens, Jean Patou, Elsa Peretti, Emile Pingat, Miuccia Prada, Paco Rabanne, Zandra Rhodes, Olivier Rousteing (for Balmain), Yves Saint Laurent (for Dior and Yves Saint Laurent), Elsa Schiaparelli, Raf Simons (for Dior and Jil Sander), Viktor Horsting and Rolf Snoeren (for Viktor & Rolf), Jun Takahashi (for Undercover), Gianni Versace, Madeleine Vionnet, Junya Watanabe, Weeks, Vivienne Westwood, and Yohji Yamamoto.
About Time: Fashion and Duration will be on view from October 29, 2020 through February 7, 2021 at The Metropolitan Museum of Art, Fifth Avenue, NYC. the exhibition is made possible by Louis Vuitton. Corporate sponsorship is also provided by Condé Nast.
Remember, a timed-entry exhibition ticket is required.