One of the biggest exhibitions this year celebrates fashion past and present, and brings together iconic costumes from designers such as Louis Vuitton, Dior, Alexander McQueen, and more. Tracing 150 years of fashion history, About Time: Fashion and Duration opens today at the Metropolitan Museum of Art Costume Institute and will run until February 2021.
The exhibition was initially scheduled to open on May 4 to coincide with the annual Met Gala, and the Met's 150th anniversary, but the pandemic put those plans on hold until now. Just in time for the holidays. The presentation traces 150 years of fashion history through a disrupted timeline that meshes past and present. Guests will be led through the Costume Institute's exhibition by "ghost narrator" Virginia Woolf, whose writings will act as a lens through which visitors can examine the styles on display and see how they connect with time.
"Fashion is indelibly connected to time. It not only reflects and represents the spirit of the times, but it also changes and develops with the times, serving as an especially sensitive and accurate timepiece," said curator Andrew Bolton. "Through a series of chronologies, the exhibition uses the concept of duration to analyze the temporal twists and turns of fashion history."
The exhibition employs French philosopher Henri Bergon's concept of la durée (duration) – that time is subjective to the individual. The timeline will unfold in two adjacent galleries styled as enormous clock faces, with monochrome designs indicating minutes on the clock face and organized around the principle of 60 minutes of fashion, say organizers. Each "minute" will feature a pair of garments, from different timelines, "with the primary work representing the linear nature of fashion and the secondary work its cyclical character."
Designs on display include a black silk faille princess-line dress from the late 1870s which is paired with an Alexander McQueen “Bumster” skirt from 1995. A black silk satin dress with leg-o’-mutton sleeves from the mid-1890s will be presented alongside a Comme des Garçons deconstructed item from 2004. Guests can also examine designs from Virgil Abloh (for Off-White), Jonathan Anderson (for JW Anderson and Loewe), Cristóbal Balenciaga, Christian Dior, Tom Ford (for Gucci), Nicolas Ghesquière (for Louis Vuitton), Marc Jacobs (for Perry Ellis, Marc Jacobs, and Louis Vuitton), Karl Lagerfeld (for Chanel) Yves Saint Laurent (for Dior and Yves Saint Laurent), Gianni Versace and more.
Due to the pandemic, the museum is operating at reduced capacity. Tickets are sold for time slots which can be reserved online or in person. General admission tickets are priced at $25 for adults; $17 for seniors; $12 for students.