Last Updated: June 10, 2024By

@@@@@Dreamy Delights: Fashion Unveiled!


The gentle rustle of silk, the clickety-clack of seashells, and the sweet scent of blossoms in the air – all these spellbinding sensations, and more, are calling out to visitors at the Metropolitan Museum of Art’s exciting spring fashion exhibit.


Dubbed “Sleeping Beauties: Waking Up Fashion,” the showcase is a tribute to the sensory joys of fashion, spotlighting the evocative smells, sounds, and textures of select garments and accessories plucked from the museum’s treasure trove. In a time where social media has flattened fashion into mere digital pixels, this exhibition serves as the Met’s rallying cry to reconnect with fashion in the tangible realm.


Max Hollein, the Met’s head honcho, expressed, “A painting is hung on a wall to be admired, frozen in time. A dress, however, is meant to be lived in, to dance through space. When a piece of fashion finds its way into the Met’s collection, it transforms into an artifact. You can no longer caress its fabric, feel its weight, as the creator intended. This exhibit is a grand experiment, a celebration of the myriad dimensions of the fashion journey.”


The curator, Andrew Bolton, along with his team, faced the daunting task of curating 250 garments and accessories spanning four centuries, alongside 75 new acquisitions crafted exclusively for this event. They’ve employed a blend of old-school charm and cutting-edge tech to evoke the sensory delights associated with each piece. For instance, a delicate 1880s ballgown by Charles Frederick Worth is displayed horizontally, earning it the moniker “sleeping beauty,” while an animated 3D figure twirls nearby in a virtual rendition of the same ensemble.


Bolton remarked, “Fashion is a living entity that demands our full sensory engagement for true appreciation and understanding. It engages touch, smell, sound, and sometimes even taste. In a museum setting, aside from sight, our other senses are dulled. What was once a vibrant part of our existence becomes a static work of art.”


Their ingenious methods breathe new life into these relics. One room pays homage to the audacious style of New York socialite Millicent Rogers, with a fragrance concocted to evoke her scent, blending molecules from her dresses and hats with hints of her signature perfume intertwined with traces of her lifestyle choices.

The swish of silk taffeta and the clink of seashell paillettes accompany visitors through the exhibition’s themed sections: flowers, insects, birds, and the sea. While the amalgamation of sensory experiences and natural motifs may seem bewildering, the sheer artistry and craftsmanship of the displays provide coherence. Floral themes dominate, from digital prints on Loewe dresses to Yves Saint Laurent couture jackets inspired by Van Gogh’s Irises.

Elsewhere, McQueen dresses mimic butterfly wings, while Dries Van Noten creations shimmer with iridescent beetle wings. Dresses by Richard Malone evoke ocean swells, and a Loewe coat sprouts live grass, symbolizing fashion’s fleeting nature.

The grand finale features socialite Natalie Potter’s stunning 1930 wedding gown, its scalloped train cascading over multiple steps. Accompanying it is a custom AI chatbot, ready to regale visitors with tales of Potter’s life.

From the rare, deteriorating gowns to the avant-garde designs of contemporary artists, the exhibit underscores the inherently human nature of fashion, dependent on its interaction with the human form. Bolton encapsulates it aptly, “This exhibition serves as a reminder that museum garments, despite their eternal repose, retain their sensory narratives, waiting to be reawakened by those who dare to believe in the magic.”

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