New Met exhibit examines American fashion, frame by frame | lifestyles

By JOCELYN NOVECK – AP National Writer

NEW YORK (AP) – Even for a legendary film director like Martin Scorsese, the task was daunting.

Take one of the famous American-era halls at the Metropolitan Museum of Art and essentially shoot a one-frame film without a camera: a tableau, not a film, but with your cinematic sensibility. Your actors are mannequins and the costumes have been chosen for you.

“Create a one-frame movie in a period space? A great opportunity and a fascinating challenge,” the director wrote in a statement alongside his creation, a mysterious blend of characters, emotion and fashion in the museum’s stunning Frank Lloyd Wright Room.

Eight other directors are also lining the period spaces for “In America: An Anthology of Fashion,” the Met Costume Institute’s spring exhibition, which opens with Monday’s Met Gala and opens to the public on May 7. The gala will cost millions for the self-funding institute that has become a major fashion and pop culture extravaganza will be among the first to see the exhibitions.

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The exhibition is the second part of a larger American fashion exhibition celebrating the Costume Institute’s 75th anniversary. As usual, helmed by star curator Andrew Bolton, the new installment is both a sequel and prequel to In America: A Lexicon of Fashion, which opened last September and focuses more on contemporary designers and establishes what Bolton has a vocabulary for calls fashion. (The shows run concurrently and consolidate in September.)

If the new “anthology” show is to provide crucial historical context, it also seeks to find untold stories and unsung heroes in early American fashion, particularly women designers and especially women of color. Many of their stories, Bolton said in announcing the show, “have been forgotten, overlooked or relegated to a footnote in the annals of fashion history.”

The nine directors were chosen to enliven storytelling with their own distinct aesthetics. Joining Scorsese are two of the presenters of Monday night’s Met Gala – actress-director Regina King and designer-director Tom Ford. Also in attendance are last year’s Academy Award winner Chloé Zhao, Radha Blank, Janicza Bravo, Sofia Coppola, Julie Dash and Autumn de Wilde.

For King, the Richmond Room, which depicted the domestic life of wealthy Virginians in the early 19th century, provided an opportunity to highlight black designer Fannie Criss Payne, who was born in the late 1860s to formerly enslaved parents and became a leading local seamstress . She was known for sewing a name tape into her clothes to ‘sign’ her work – part of an emerging sense of making clothes as a creative endeavor.

King says she wanted to “represent the power and strength that Fannie Criss Payne exudes through her impressive story and exquisite clothing,” put her in a successful work situation — and proudly wear her own design — customize a client and hire another black woman as a seamstress.

Filmmaker Radha Blank follows Maria Hollander, a clothing company founder in mid-1800s Massachusetts who used her business success to campaign for abolition of the death penalty and women’s rights. In the museum’s Shaker Retiring Room, director Zhao harks back to the minimalist aesthetic of 1930s sportswear designer Claire McCardell.

De Wilde uses her set at the Baltimore Dining Room to examine the influence of European fashion on American women – including some disapproving American attitudes towards those low-cut Paris dresses. Dash focuses on black dressmaker Ann Lowe, who designed future First Lady Jackie Kennedy’s wedding dress but received little credit for it. “The designer was shrouded in secrecy,” Dash writes. “Invisibility was the cloak she wore, and yet she insisted.”

In the wing’s neo-Gothic library, Bravo contemplates the work of Elizabeth Hawes, a mid-20th-century designer and fashion writer. And Coppola, given the McKim, Mead & White Stair Hall and one more room, writes that at first she wasn’t sure what to do: “How do you direct a scene with no actors or a story?” She eventually settled on that Sculptor Rachel Feinstein to create distinctive faces for her “characters”.

Every filmmaker reached into his own bag of tricks. For Scorsese, the fashions he received were designed by brilliant couturier Charles James – the subject of his own costume show (and Met Gala) in 2014. Scorsese knew he had to create a story “that was felt throughout.” Zimmer.” Turning to the Technicolor films of the 1940s, he used John Stah’s “Leave Her to Heaven,” which he calls “a real Technicolor Noir.” What happens before and after the scene we see—including a woman , crying next to a portrait of a man, and a martini glass nearby – “I hope people come back with multiple possibilities unfolding in their minds.”

The exhibition in the museum’s Versailles room, known for its panoramic circular view of Versailles painted by John Vanderlyn between 1818 and 1819, is sure to be a talking point.

Ford transforms the space into a depiction of the “Battle of Versailles” – not a military conflict, but the name of a big night for American fashion in 1973, when five American sportswear designers (including Oscar de la Renta and Anne Klein) “faced off stood off” against five French couture designers at a show in Versailles and showed the world what American fashion is all about.

In his tableau, Ford decided to make it a real fight, using warring mannequins, many of whom were dressed in ensembles from that pivotal show. “Weapons have changed,” writes Ford. “Instead of fans and feather boas, there are fencing mats and front kicks.”

In America: An Anthology of Fashion opens to the public on May 7th. Part one, “In America: A Lexicon of Fashion,” remains open at the Anna Wintour Costume Center. Both close in September.

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New Met exhibit examines American fashion, frame by frame | lifestyles

Source link New Met exhibit examines American fashion, frame by frame | lifestyles

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